WORLDS of SCIENCE FICTION
CHECK AND CHECKMATE
■• . ....■;'.■■■.■■ . . .■:■ . ..■.,.■'■:
i icon Museum of Natural History
EXPANDING SUN BURNS UP EARTH — Presented by the Hayden
Planetarium as one of several astronomical catastrophies that
could some day end life on the Earth, here is an artist's concep-
tion of what would happen to us under expanding energy of the
Sun. For expiring energy of the Sun, see inside back cover.
WORLDS of SCIENCE FICTION
All Stories New and Complete
Editor: JAMES L. QUINN
Art Director: HENRY BECKER
Cover by Anton Kurka, suggesting The Ultimate
Re-sowing of the Human Race — 4000 AD
YE OF LITTLE FAITH by Rog Phillips 32
CHECK AND CHECKMATE by Walter Miller, Jr. 4
THE STATUE by Mori Wolf 80
THE LAST GENTLEMAN by Rory Magill 25
SUCCESS STORY by Robert Turner 66
THE PEACEMAKER by Alfred Coppel 70
TIME ENOUGH AT LAST by Lynn Venoble 95
THE ANGLERS OF ARZ by Roger Dee 103
NO SHIELD FROM THE DEAD by Gordon R. Dickson 1 1 1
A CHAT WITH THE EDITOR 2
PERSONALITIES IN SCIENCE 100
SCIENCE BRIEFS 116
THE POSTMAN COMETH 118
IF is published bi-monthly by Quinn Publishing Company, Inc. Volume 1, No. 6.
Copyright 1952. Office of publication, 8 Lord Street, Buffalo, New York. Entered
as Second Class Matter at Post Office, Buffalo, New York. Subscription $3.50 for
12 issues in U.S. and Possessions; Canada $4 for 12 issues: elsewhere $4.50. Allow
four weeks for change of address. All_ stories appearing in this magazine are fiction;
any similarity to actual persons is coincidental. Not responsible for unsolicited art-
work or manuscripts. 35c a copy. Printed in U.S.A.
EDITORIAL AND BUSINESS OFFICES, KINGSTON, NEW YORK
Next issue on sale January 7th
A CHAT WITH
WHEN WILL we have space travel?
The year 1952 seems to be open
season on that question. It's been
the subject of articles in newspapers
and magazines; whole volumes have
been devoted to it; it has been dis-
cussed over the radio and on your
television screen. Many of the lead-
ing scientists in America have had
a whack at it. The pretty solid con-
census is that we will have space
travel, but as to when there seems
to be a difference of opinion. Some
authorities put it at ten years,
others at fifteen or twenty, and still
others say longer.
The chances are that it will be
longer — much longer. Probably not
before the year 2000. Why? Be-
cause there are too many elements
involved other than the purely
physical scientific evolvement of
ways and means. First, let's consider
the "tractor force" which has
moved mankind through the ages,
that which will move him on to
another planet: that of dire physi-
cal necessity, or the fundamental
law of survival.
MAN HAS always moved — or ex-
plored — because he had to live.
That's basic. Since the beginning of
time, Man, singly at first and later
in groups or nations, has ventured
forth for the sustenance of life —
food, clothing, raw materials, com-
mercial intercourse, economic se-
curity — and he has accomplished it
through free exploration or war. As
Man progressed, by supplying him-
self with the basic requirements of
life, he gave birth to thought —
spiritual, cultural, philosophical,
scientific, political, economical —
which gave to the satisfaction of his
animal hungers the veneer called
Today Mankind has multiplied
and explored and warred until it
populates, in an alleged civilized
state of mind, practically every
known part of Earth — at least those
parts which are habitable— eating
off it, living off it, thinking off it
and deriving varying degrees of
comfort therefrom. And despite the
plundered condition of that Earth
today, there are still millions of in-
habitable miles, and still enough
wherewithall to sustain the human
race for at least another century.
So, the all-compelling, motivating,
driving force to push Man off the
Earth, that of animal survival, is
lacking — at least for the present.
A SECOND rather logical reason
why we can't expect space travel
before 2000 AD is universal political
attitude. There's too much distrust,
corruption, petty jealousy, nar-
row-mindedness and lack of unity
in national intercourse today. Inter-
space travel is the invasion of one
planet by another, and there's got
to be at least a fundamental unity
between the peoples of the earth
if they are going to invade other
worlds. It's too big a job for one
guy to accomplish by himself in a
dark room in his basement. Scien-
tific experiments with rockets
reaching toward space — propulsion,
meteorological, survival — have
been pressed for military purposes.
Every major nation has its own
rocket or guided missile project
working night and day to get the
jump on its fellow nations. The
United States is the best equipped
nation in the world to launch a
space project, but the moment our
enemies hear about it they're going
to do everything in their power to
knock it down. If our enemies got
the jump, the United States would
jolly well have to do the same thing.
Perhaps space travel will be born
during the next war — much as our
rockets, jet propulsion and elec-
tronic discoveries came out of the
Second World War. Perhaps the
Third World War will be one to
determine which nation is to be the
first to enter space. When that
great, great war is over, the victor,
if there be such, will be the ruler of
Earth; there will be no one to con-
test its right to the skies; and with
what is learned and what is left,
and with the cooperation of all, it
can build ships to explore space and
seek another planet. By that time it
is very possible that such will be
necessary — Earth having burned up
the essentials of life.
ANOTHER delay, of course, is
money. It has been estimated that
the cost to establish space transpor-
tation, with outer planet contact,
will cost billions of dollars. That's
right — but how many of these as-
tronomical denominations? The
U. S. government is already 265
billions in the red, and to success-
fully establish space travel or
planetary contact on any perma-
nent basis will probably cost as
much as the entire national budget
for a year — how much is it running
now? — fifty, sixty, seventy billions?
Take that awesome mountain of
cabbage and add to it the extra
cost of the super-secrecy required
today, the calculated costs of sa-
botage, the cost of another war —
and there you have it.
YES, WE'LL HAVE space travel, but
hardly before there is a basic neces-
sity, a reasonable degree of world
unity and a fabulous amount of
money to back up the sweat and
genius of science. Let's say, pretty
soon. Perhaps fifty or sixty years.
And that's a mighty short time
away, almost infinitesimal, when
you're setting up a million-year
milestone in the whole history of
mankind. — jlq
CHECK and CHECKMATE
Victory hinges not always on the mightiest sword,
but often on lowly subterfuge. Here is a classic
example, with the Western World as stooge!
JOHN SMITH XVI, new Presi-
dent of the Western Federation
of Autonomous States, had made a
number of campaign promises that
nobody really expected him to ful-
fill, for after all, the campaign and
the election were only ceremonies,
and the President — who had no real
name of his own — had been trained
By WALTER MILLER, Jr.
Illustrated by TOM BEECHAM
for the executive post since birth.
He had been elected by a popular
vote of 603,217,954 to 130, the dis-
senters casting their negative by an-
nouncing that, for the sake of
national unity, they refused to par-
ticipate in any civilized activities
during the President's term, where-
upon they were admitted (volun-
WALTER MILLER, Jr.
tarily) to the camp for conscien-
But now, two weeks after his in-
auguration, he seemed ready to
make good the first and perhaps
most difficult promise of the lot: to
confer by televiewphone with Ivan
Ivanovitch the Ninth, the Peoples-
friend and Vicar of the Asian Pro-
letarian League. The President ap-
parently meant to keep to himself
the secret of his success in the diffi-
cult task of arranging the inter-
view in spite of the lack of any dip-
lomatic contact between the na-
tions, in spite of the Hell Wall, and
the interference stations which
made even radio communication
impossible between the two halves
of the globe. Someone had sug-
gested that John Smith XVI had
floated a note to Ivan IX in a bot-
tle, and the suggestion, though lu-
dicrous, seemed not at all unlikely.
John XVI seemed quite pleased
with himself as he sat with his staff
of Primary Stand-ins in the study of
his presidential palace. His face, of
course, was invisible behind 'the
golden mask of the official helmet,
the mask of tragedy with its expres-
sion of pathos symbolizing the self-
immolation of public service — as
well as protecting the President's
own personal visage from public
view, and hence from assassination
in unmasked private life, for not
only was he publicly nameless, but
also publicly faceless and publicly
unknown as an individual. But des-
pite the invisibility of his expres-
sion, his contentment became ap-
parent by a certain briskness of
gesticulation and a certain smug-
ness in his voice as he spoke to the
nine Stand-ins who were also body-
guards, council-members, and ad-
visors to the chief executive.
"Think of it, men," he sighed
happily in his smooth tenor, slight-
ly muffled by the mask. "Commu-
nication with the East — after forty
years of the Big Silence. A great
moment in history, perhaps the
greatest since the last peace-effort."
The nine men nodded dutifully.
The President looked around at
them and chuckled.
" 'Peace-effort'," he echoed, spit-
ting the words out distinctly as if
they were a pair of phonetic speci-
mens. "Do you remember what it
used to be called — in the middle of
the last century?"
A brief silence, then a Stand-in
frowned thoughtfully. "Called it
'war', didn't they, John?"
"Precisely." The golden helmet
nodded crisply. " 'War' — and now
'peace-effort'. Our semantics has
progressed. Our present 'security-
probe' was once called 'lynch'. 'So-
cial-security' once meant a limited
insurance plan, not connoting
euthanasia and sterilization for the
ellie-moes. And that word 'ellie-
moe' — once eleemosynary — was
once applied to institutions that
took care of the handicapped."
He waited for the burst of laugh-
ter to subside. A Stand-in, still
chuckling, spoke up.
"It's our institutions that have
"True enough," the President
agreed. "But as they changed, most
of them kept their own names. Like
'the Presidency'. It used to be rab-
ble-chosen, as our ceremonies im-
ply. Then the Qualifications
Amendment that limited it to the
psychologically fit. And then the
CHECK AND CHECKMATE
Education Amendment prescribed
other qualifying rules. And the Ge-
netic Amendment, and the Selec-
tion Amendment, and finally the
seclusion and depersonalization.
Until it gradually got out of the
rabble's hands, except symbolical-
ly." He paused. "Still, it's good to
keep the old names. As long as the
names don't change, the rabble is
happy, and say, 'We have preserved
the Pan-American way of life'."
"While the rabble is really im-
potent," added a Stand-in.
"Don't say that!" John Smith
XVI snapped irritably, sitting
quickly erect on the self-conform-
ing couch. "And if you believe it,
you're a fool." His voice went sar-
donic. "Why don't you try abolish-
ing me and find out?"
"Sorry, John. I didn't mean — *
THE PRESIDENT stood up and
paced slowly toward the window
where he stood gazing between the
breeze-stirred drapes at the sun-
swept city of Acapulco and at the
breakers rolling toward the distant
"No, my power is of the rabble,"
he confessed, "and I am their
friend." He turned to look at them
and laugh. "Should I build my
power on men like you? Or the
Secondary Stand-ins? Baa! For all
your securities, you are still stooges.
Of the rabble. Do you obey me be-
cause I control military force? Or
because I control rabble? The lat-
ter I think. For despite precautions,
military forces can be corrupted.
Rabble cannot. They rule you
through me, and I rule you through
them. And I am their servant be-
cause I have to be. No tyrant can
survive by oppression."
A gloomy hush followed his
words. It was still fourteen minutes
before time for the televiewphone
contact with Ivan Ivanovitch IX.
The President turned back to the
"window". He stared "outside" un-
til he grew tired of the view. He
pressed a button on the wall. The
window went black. He pressed an-
other button, which brought an-
other view: Pike's Peak at sunset.
As the sky gathered gray twilight,
he twisted a dial and ran the sun
back up again.
The palace was built two hun-
dred feet underground, and the
study was a safe with walls of
eight-inch steel. It lent a certain air
The historic moment was ap-
proaching. The Stand-ins seemed
nervous. What changes had oc-
curred behind the Hell Wall, what
new developments in science, what
political mutations? Only rumors
came from beyond the Wall, since
the last big peace-effort which had
ended in stalemate and total isola-
tion. The intelligence service did
the best that it could, but the pic-
ture was fuzzy and incomplete.
There was still "communism", but
the word's meaning had apparently
changed. It was said that the third
Ivan had been a crafty opportunist
but also a wise man who, although
he did nothing to abolish absolu-
tism, effected a bloody reformation
in which the hair-splitting Marxist
dogmatics had been purged. He ap-
pointed the most pragmatic men he
could find to succeed them, and set
the whole continental regime on
the road to a harsh but practical
WALTER MILLER, Jr.
A slogan had leaked across the
Wall recently: "There is no God
but a Practical Man; there is no
Law but a Best Solution," and it
seemed to affirm that the third
Ivan's influence had continued
after his passing — although the
slogan itself was a dogma. And it
might mean something quite non-
literal to the people who spoke it.
The rabble of the West were still
stirred to deep emotion by a thing
that began, "When in the course of
human events — " and they saw
nothing incongruous about Ter-
tiary Stand-ins who quoted it in the
name of the Federation's rule.
But the unknown factor that dis-
turbed the President most was not
the present Asian political or eco-
nomic situation, but rather, the
state of scientific development, par-
ticularly as it applied to military
matters. The forty years of non-
communication had not been spent
in military stasis, at least not for
the West. Sixty percent of the fed-
eral budget was still being spent for
defense. Powerful new weapons
were still being developed, and old
ones pronounced obsolete. The sev-
enth John Smith had even con-
spired to have a conspiracy against
himself in Argentina, with resulting
civil war, so that the weapons could
be tested under actual battle condi-
tions^ — for the region had been
overpopulated anyway. The results
had been comforting — but John
the Sixteenth wanted to know more
about what the enemy was doing.
THE HELL WALL— which was
really only a globe-encircling
belt of booby-trapped land and
ocean, guarded from both sides —
had its political advantages, of
course. The mysterious doings of
the enemy, real and imagined, were
a constant and suspenseful threat
that made it easy for the Smiths to
keep the rabble in hand. But for all
the present Smith knew, the threat
might very well be real. He had to
find out. It would also be a popu-
lar triumph he could toss to the
rabble, bolstering his position with
them, and thereby securing his hold
on the Primary, Secondary, and
Tertiary Stand-ins, who were be-
coming a little too presumptious of
He had a plan in mind, vague,
tentative, and subject to constant
revision to suit events as they might
begin to occur. He kept the plan's
goal to himself, knowing that the
Stand-ins would call it insane, dan-
"John! We're picking up their
station!" a Stand-in called. "It's a
minute before time!"
He left the window and walked
calmly to the couch before the tele-
viewphone, whose screen had come
alive with the kaleidoscope patterns
of the interference-station which
sprang to life as soon as an enemy
station tried to broadcast.
"Have the fools cut that scatter-
station!" he barked angrily.
A Stand-in grabbed at a micro-
phone, but before he made the call
the interference stopped — a few
seconds before the appointed time.
The screen revealed an empty desk
and a wall behind, with a flag of
the Asian League. No one was in
the picture, which was slightly
blurred by several relay stations,
CHECK AND CHECKMATE
which had been set up on short no-
tice for this one broadcast.
A wall-clock peeped the hour in
a childish voice: "Sixteen o'clock,
Thirdday, Smithweek, also Acci-
dent-Prevention Week and Probe-
Subversives Week; Happy 2073!
A man walked into the picture
and sat down, facing John Smith
XVI. A heavy-set man, clad in cov-
eralls, and wearing a red rubber or
plastic helmet-mask. The mask was
the face of the first Soviet dictator,
dead over a century ago. John's
scalp bristled slightly beneath his
own golden headdress. He tried to
relax. The room was hushed. The
opposing leaders stared at each
other without speaking. Historic
Ivan Ivanovitch slowly lifted his
hand and waved it in greeting.
John Smith returned the gesture,
then summoned courage to speak
"You have translators at hand?"
"I need none," the red mask
growled in the Western tongue.
"You are unable to speak my
tongue. We shall speak yours."
The President started. How
could the Red know that he did not
speak the Russo- Asian dialect?
"Very well." The President
reached for a prepared text and be-
gan to read. "I requested this con-
ference in the hope of establishing
some form of contact between our
peoples, through their duly consti-
tuted executive authorities. I hope
that we can agree on a series of
conferences, aimed eventually at a
lessening of the tension between us.
I do not propose that we alter our
respective positions, nor to change
our physical isolation from one an-
other, except in the field of high-
level diplomacy and . . ."
"Why?" grunted the Asian chief-
John Smith XVI hesitated. The
gutteral monosyllabic had been
toneless and disinterested. The Red
was going to draw him out, appar-
ently. Very well, he would be frank
— for a time.
"The answer should be evident,
Peoplesfriend. I presume that your
government spends a respectable
sum for armaments. My govern-
ment does likewise. The eventual
aim should be economy . . ."
"Is this a disarmament propos-
The fellow was blunt. Smith
cleared his throat. "Not at the pres-
ent time, Peoplesfriend. I hoped
that eventually we might be able to
establish a mutual trust so that to
some extent we could lessen the
burden . . ."
"Stop talking Achesonian, Presi-
dent. What do you want?"
The President went rigid. "Very
well," he said sarcastically, "I pro-
pose that we reduce military ex-
penses by blowing the planet in
half. The halves can circle each
other as satellite twins, and we'll
have achieved perfect isolation. It
would seem more economical than
the present course."
He apparently had sized-up the
Peoplesfriend correctly. The man
threw back his masked head and
"The Solomon solution! ... ha
ha! . . . Slice the baby in half!" the
Stalin-mask chuckled. Then he
paused to grow sober. "Too bad we
can't do it, isn't it?"
WALTER MILLER, Jr.
JOHN SMITH sat stiffly waiting.
Diplomacy was dead, and he
had made a mistake in trying to be
polite. Diplomats were dead, and
the art forgotten. Poker-game pro-
tocol had to apply here, and it was
really the only sensible way: for
two opponents to try to cheat each
other honestly and jovially. He was
glad the Soviet Worker's Vicar had
not responded to his first politeness.
"Anything else, Smith?"
"We can discuss agenda later.
What about the continued confer-
"Suits me. I have nothing to lose.
I am in a position to destroy you
anyway, a position I have occupied
for several years. I have not cared
to do so, since you made no overt
moves against us."
A brief silence. Bluff? Smith
wondered. Certainly bluff. On the
other hand, it would be interesting
to see how far Ivan would brag.
"I gather your atomic research
has made rapid strides, for you to
make such a boast," Smith ven-
"Not at all. In fact, my predeces-
sor had it curtailed and limited to
industrial applications. Our weap-
ons program has become uni-direc-
tional, and extremely inexpensive.
I'll tell you about it sometime."
Smith's flesh crawled. Something
was wrong here. The Asian leader
was too much at his ease. His words
meant nothing, of course. It had to
be lying noise; it could be nothing
else. A meeting such as this was not
meant to communicate truth, but
to discern an opponent's attitude
and to try to hide one's own.
"Let it suffice to say," the Red
leader went on, "that we know
more about you than you know
about us. Our system has changed.
A century ago, our continent suf-
fered a blight of dogmatism and
senseless butchery such as the world
had never seen. Obviously, such
conditions cannot endure. They did
not. There was strong reaction and
revolution within the framework of
the old system. We have achieved
a workable technological aristo-
cratism, based on an empirical ap-
proach to problems. We realize that
the final power is in the hands of
the people — and I use that archaic
word in preference to your 'rab-
"Are you trying to convert me to
something?" John Smith growled
"Not at all. I'm telling you our
position." He paused for a moment,
then inserted his fingertips under
the edge of the mask. "Here is
probably the best way to tell you."
The Red leader ripped off the
mask, revealing an impassive Ori-
ental face with deepset black eyes
and a glowering frown. The Presi-
dent sucked in his breath. It was
unthinkable, that a man should ex-
pose himself to . . . but then, that
was what he was trying to prove
He kicked a foot-switch to kill
the microphone circuit, and spoke
quickly to the Stand-ins, knowing
that the Asian could not see his lips
move behind the golden mask.
"Is Security Section guarding
against spy circuits?"
"Then quick, get out of the
room, all of you! Join the Secondar-
"But John, it'll leave you fin-
CHECK AND CHECKMATE
gered! If nine of us leave, they'll
know that the remaining one is — "
"Get on your masks and get out!
I'm going to take mine off."
"You don't need to curse," the
Stand-in muttered. The. nine men,
out of the camera's field, donned
golden helmets identical to Smith's,
whistled six notes to the audio-com-
bination, then slipped out the thick
steel door as it clicked and came
The Red was jeering at him
quietly. "Afraid to take off your
mask, President? The rabble? Or
your self-appointed Stand-ins?
Which frightens you, President — "
John Smith plucked at a latch
under his chin, and the golden
headdress came apart down the
sides. He lifted it off and laid it
casually aside, revealing a hard,
blocky face, slightly in need of a
shave, with cool blue eyes and
blond brows. His hair was graying
slightly at the temples, with a forty-
THE RED nodded. "Greetings,
human. I doubted that you
"Why not?" growled Smith.
"Because you fear your Stand-
ins, as appointees, not subject to
your 'rabble'. Our ruling clique
selects its own members, but they
are subject to popular approval or
recall by referendum. I fear noth-
ing from them."
"Let's not compare our domestic
"I wanted to point out," the
Asian continued calmly, "that your
system slipped into what it is with-
out realizing it. A bad was allowed
to grow worse. We, however were
reacting against unreasonableness
and stupidity within our own sys-
tem. In the year 2001—"
"I am aware of your history be-
fore the Big Silence. May we dis-
cuss pertinent matters — ?"
The Asian stared at him sharp-
ly. The frown grew deeper. The
black eyes looked haughty. "If you
really want to discuss something,
John Smith, suppose we arrange a
personal meeting in a non-walled,
neutral region? Say, Antarctica?"
John Smith XVI, unaccustomed
to dealing without a mask, let sur-
prise fill his face before he caught
himself. The Asian chuckled but
said nothing. The President studied
the border of the teleview screen
for a moment.
"I shall have to consider your
proposal," he said dully.
The Peoplesfriend nodded curt-
ly, then suggested a time for the
next interview. Smith revised it
ahead to gain more time, and
agreement was reached. The screen
went blank ; the interview was at an
end. The Sixteenth Smith took a
slow, worried breath, then slowly
donned the mask of office again. He
summoned the nine Primaries im-
"That was dangerous, John,"
one of them warned him as they en-
tered. "You may regret it. They
knew you were in here alone. We're
not all identical from the neck-
down you know. When we come
out, they might compare — "
He cut the man off with a curt
gesture. "No time. We're in a bad
situation. Maybe worse than I
guess." He began pacing the floor
WALTER MILLER, Jr.
and staring down at the metallifiber
rug as he spoke. "He knows more
about us than he should. It took
me awhile to realize that he's
speaking our latest language vari-
ations. A language changes idiom
in forty years, and slang. He's got
the latest phrases. 'Greetings, hu-
man' is one, like a rabbleman says
when somebody softens up."
"Maybe a whole network. I don't
see how they could get them
through the Wall, but — maybe it's
not so hard. Antarctic's open, as he
"What can we do about it,
Smith stopped pacing, popped
his knuckles hard, stared at them.
"Assemble Congress. Security-
probe. It's the only answer. Let the
'Rabble's Parliament' run their own
inquisition. They were always good
at purging themselves. Start a big
spy-scare, and keep it in the chan-
nels. I'll lead with a message to the
rabble." He paused, the tragedy
mask gaping at them. "You won't
like this, but I'm having the Stand-
ins probed too. The Presidency is
A muttering of indignation.
Some of them went white. No one
"No witch-hunt in this group,
however," he assured them. "I'll
veto anything that looks unfair for
the Primaries, but—" He paused
and rang the word again. " — but —
there will be no leniency tolerated
from here on down, if Congress
thinks it's found a spy, it can exe-
cute him on the spot — and I won't
lift a finger. This has got to be
rooted out and burned."
He began to pace again. He be-
gan barking crisp orders for spe-
cific details of the probe, or rather,
for the campaign that would start
the probe. The rabble were better
at witch-hunts than a government
was. Congress had not been assem-
bled for fifteen years, since there
had been nothing suspicious to in-
vestigate, but once it was called to
duty, heads would roll — some of
them literally. If some innocent
people were hurt, the rabble could
only blame themselves, for their
own enthusiasm in ruthlessly
searching out the underground en-
emy. Smith couldn't worry about
that. If an Asian spy-system were
operating in the continent, it had
to be crushed quickly.
WHEN HE had outlined the
propaganda and string-pulling
plans for them, he turned to the
other matter — the Red leader's
boast of ability to conquer the
"It's probably foolish talk, but
we don't know their present psy-
chology. Double production on our
most impressive weapons. Give the
artificial-satellite program all the
money it wants, and get them mov-
ing on it. I want a missile-launch-
ing site in space before the end of
the year. Pay particular attention
to depopulation weapons for use
against industrial areas. We may
have to strike in a hurry. We've
been fools — coasting this way, feel-
ing secure behind the Wall."
"You're not contemplating an-
other peace-effort, John?" gasped
an elderly Stand-in.
"I'm contemplating survival!"
CHECK AND CHECKMATE
the leader snapped. "I don't know
that we're in serious danger, but if
it takes a peace-effort to make sure,
then we'll start one. So fast it'll
knock out their industry before they
know we've hit them." He stood
frozen for a moment, the mask lift-
ed proudly erect. "By Ike, I love
the West! And it's not going to suf-
fer any creeping eruption while I'm
at its head!"
When the President had finished
and was ready to leave, the others
started donning their masks again.
"Just a minute," he grunted.
One of the men, about the Presi-
dent's size and build, looked up
quickly. "Yes, John?"
"Your cloak is stained at the left
Six inspected it curiously, then
nodded. "I was inspecting a ma-
chine shop, and — "
"Never mind. Trade cloaks with
"Why, if—" Six stopped. His
face lost color. "But the others —
might have — "
Six unclasped it slowly and hand-
ed it to the Sixteenth Smith, ac-
cepting the President's in return.
His face was set in rigid lines, but
he made no further protest.
Masked and prepared, a Stand-
in whistled a tune to the door,
which had changed its combination
since the last time. The tumblers
clicked, and they walked out into a
large auditorium containing two
hundred Secondary Stand-ins, all
wearing the official mask.
If a Secondary ever wanted to
assassinate the President, one shot
would give him a single chance in
ten as they filed through the door.
"Mill about!" bellowed a Ser-
geant-at-Arms, and the two hun-
dred began wandering among
themselves in the big room, a
queer porridge, stirred clumsily
but violently. The Primaries and
the President lost themselves in the
throng. For ten minutes the room
milled and circulated.
"Unmask!" bellowed the crier.
The two hundred and ten
promptly removed their helmets
and placed them on the floor. The
President was unmasked and un-
known — unmarked except by a cer-
tain physical peculiarity that could
be checked only by a physician, in
case the authenticity of the presi-
dential person was challenged, as
it frequently was.
Then the Secondaries went out
to lose themselves in a larger throng
of Tertiaries, and the group split
randomly to take the various un-
derground highways to their homes.
The President entered his house
in the suburbs of Dia City, hugged
the children, and kissed his wife.
John Smith was profoundly dis-
turbed. During the years of the Big
Silence, a feeling of uneasy security
had evolved. The Federation had
been in isolation too long, and the
East had become a mysterious un-
known. The Presidency had oscil-
lated between suspicious unease
and smug confidence, depending
perhaps upon the personality of the
particular president more than any-
thing else. The mysteriousness of
the foe had been used politically to
good advantage by every president
selected to office, and the Sixteenth
Smith had intended to so use it. But
now he vaguely regretted it.
WALTER MILLER, Jr.
THE TENURE of office was still
four years, and he could not help
feeling that if he had maintained
the intercontinental silence, he
would not have had to worry about
the spy-matter. If the hemisphere
had been infiltrated, the subversive
work had not begun yesterday. It
had probably been going on for
years, during several administra-
tions, and the plans of the East, if
any, would perhaps not come to a
climax for several more years. He
felt himself in the position of a man
who suffered no pain as yet, but
learned that he had an incurable
disease. Why did he have to find
But now that the danger was
apparent, he had to go ahead and
fight it instead of allowing it to
pass on to the next John Smith.
He made a stirring speech to
Congress when it convened. The
cowled figures of the people's rep-
resentatives sat like gloomy gray
shadows in the tiers of seats around
the great amphitheatre under the
night sky; the symbolic torches
threw fluttering black shadows
among their ranks. The sight al-
ways made him shiver. Their cowls
and robes had been affected during
the last great peace-effort, at which
time they had been impregnated
with lead to protect against bomb-
radiation, but the garb of office had
endured for ceremonial reasons.
There was still a 'Senate and a
House, the former acting chiefly as
an investigating body, the latter
serving a legislative function in ac-
cordance with the rabble-code,
which no longer applied to the Ex-
ecutive, being chiefly concerned
with matters of rabble morals and
police-functions. Its duties could
mostly be handled by mail and tele-
viewphone voting, so that it seldom
convened in the physical sense.
President John quoted freely
from the Declaration of Independ-
ence, the Gettysburg Address, the
MacArthur Speech to Congress,
and the immortal words of the first
John Smith in his Shall We Sub-
mit? which began: "If thy brother
the son of thy mother, or thy son, or
daughters, or thy wife, or thy friend
whom thou lovest, would persuade
thee secretly, saying, 'Let us go and
serve strange gods', neither let thy
eyes spare him nor conceal him,
but thou shalt presently put him to
The speech was televised to the
rabble, and for that matter, one of
the Stand-ins delivered the actual
address to protect the President
who was present on the platform
among the ranks of Primaries and
Secondaries, although not even
these officials were aware of it. The
address was honestly an emotional
one, not bothering with any at-
tempt at logical analysis. None was
needed. Congress was always eager
to investigate subversion. It was
good political publicity, and about
the only congressional activity that
could command public attention
and interest. The cheers were rous-
ing and prolonged. When it was
over, the Speaker and the President
of the Senate both made brief ad-
dresses to set the machinery in mo-
JOHN SMITH watchedthe pro-
ceedings with deep satisfaction.
But as time wore on, he began to
CHECK AND CHECKMATE
wonder how many spies were truly
being apprehended. Among the
many thousands who were brought
to justice, only sixty-nine actually
confessed to espionage, and over
half of them, upon being subjected
to psychiatric examination, proved
to be neurotic publicity-seekers who
would have confessed to anything
sufficiently dramatic. Twenty-seven
of them were psychiatrically
cleared, but even so, their stories
broke down when questioned under
hypnosis or hypnotic drugs, except
for seven who, although constantly
maintaining their guilt, could not
substantiate one another's claims,
nor furnish any evidence which
might lead to the discovery of a
well-organized espionage network.
John Smith was baffled.
He was particularly baffled by
the disappearance of seventeen men
in key positions, who, upon being
mentioned as possible candidates
for the probe, immediately van-
ished into thin air, leaving no trace.
It seemed to Smith, upon reading
the individual reports, that many of
them would have been absolved be-
fore their cases got beyond the dep-
uty level, so flimsy were the accusa-
tions made against them. But they
had not waited to find out. Two
were obviously guilty of something.
One had murdered a deputy who
came to question him, then fled in
a private plane, last seen heading
out to sea. He had apparently run
out of fuel over the ocean and
crashed. The second man, an ord-
nance officer at the proving
ground, had spectacularly commit-
ted suicide by exploding an atomic
artillery shell, vaporizing himself
and certain key comrades including
his superior officer.
Here, the President felt, was
something really ominous. The dis-
appearances and the suicides
spelled careful discipline and plan-
ning. Their records had been im-
peccable. The accusations seemed
absurd. If they were agents, they
had done nothing but sit in their
positions and wait for an appointed
time. The possibilities were fright-
ening, but evidence was inconclu-
sive and led nowhere. Nevertheless,
the house-cleaning continued.
On Fourtliday of Traffic Safety
Week, which was also Eat More
Corn-Popsies Week, John Smith
XVI conferred with Ivan Ivano-
vitch IX again at the appointed
time. Contrary to all traditions, he
again ordered the Stand-ins — tem-
porarily eight in number, since
Number Six had died mysteriously
in the bathtub — to leave the study
so that he might unmask. Promptly
at sixteen o'clock the Asian's face —
or rather his ceremonial mask —
came on the screen. But seeing the
Westerner's square-cut visage smil-
ing at him sourly,he promptly re-
moved the covering to reveal his
Oriental face. The exchange of
greetings was curt.
" I see by recent events," said
Ivan, "that you are nervous on your
throne. For the sake of your own
people, let me warn you that we
have no designs on your autonomy
unless you become aggressive to-
ward us. The real difficulty, as re-
vealed by your purge, is that you
feel insecure, and insecurity makes
you unpredictable. I do not, of
course, expect you to be trust-
worthy. But insecurity sometimes
breeds inpulsiveness. If you are to
WALTER MILLER, Jr.
strike out blindly, perhaps the talks
had best be broken off."
Smith XVI reddened angrily but
held his temper. The man's pre-
sumption was intolerable. Further,
he knew about the probe, knowl-
edge which could only come from
"I have become aware," the
President said firmly, "that you
have managed to establish a spy-
system on this continent. If you
wish better relations, you will have
the activity stop at once."
"I don't know what you're talk-
ing about," said the Peoplesfriend
with a bland smile. "I might point
out however that at least forty of
your spies are either killed while
trying to cross the Wall, or are ap-
prehended after they manage to
enter my regime."
"The accusation is too ridiculous
to deny," Smith lied. "We have no
desire to pry into your activities.
We wish only to maintain the sta-
The exchange continued, charges
and countercharges and denials.
Neither side expected truth or hon-
esty, and the game was as old as
civilization. Neither expected to be
believed, although the press of both
nations would heatedly condemn
the other's lack of good faith. The
ethical side of the affair was for the
rabble to consider, for only the rab-
ble cared about such things. The
real task was to ferret out the en-
emy's attitudes and intentions with-
out revealing one's own.
SMITH FELT that he had won
a little, and lost a little too. He
had found many hints of subversive
activity, but had betrayed his own
lack of certainty by reacting so
swiftly to it. Ivan IX, on the other
hand, seemed too much at ease, too
secure, and even impertinent.
"At our last meeting," said the
Asian, "I suggested a meeting be-
tween ourselves. Have you given
thought to the matter?"
"I have given it thought," said
the President, "and will agree to
the proposal provided you come to
this country. The meeting will be
held at my capitol."
"Which you change at random
intervals, I notice," purred Ivan
with a bland smile. "For security
"You could only know that by
espionage!" Smith snapped.
"Your proposal of course is out-
rageous. The only sensible place for
the meeting is in Singapore."
"That is out of the question. I
must insist on the capitol of my
government as the only acceptable
meeting-place. My government in
contacting yours put itself in the
position of extending an invitation,
a position from which we could not
depart without loss of dignity."
"I suggest we delay the matter
then," grunted the Peoplesfriend.
"And talk about the agenda for
such a meeting. What did you have
"I have already stated our gen-
eral aims as being a reduction of
armament expenses, beneficial to
both sides. I think you agree?"
"Not necessarily, since our bud-
get is already rather low. However,
make your specific proposals, and I
shall consider them. Further econ-
omy, where not injurious to secur-
ity, is always desirable."
CHECK AND CHECKMATE
"I propose, then, that we discuss
a method whereby agreement
might be reached on a plan to di-
vulge the nature of our respective
armaments, including number, na-
ture, and purpose of each weapon-
class, as a foundation for discus-
sions relating to reductions."
Smith waited for a flat "no" to
the suggestion. The Asian leader
apparently knew a great deal more
about the West's armaments than
Smith knew about the East. The
Peoplesfriend had nothing to gain
by revealing the military strength
of his own hemisphere. But he
paused, watching Smith with an
"I accept that for further consid-
eration, at least," Ivan said at last.
John XVI hovered between ela-
tion and suspicion. Suspicion won.
"Of course there must be some
method to assure that accurate fig-
ures are divulged."
"That could probably be set-
Again the President was shocked.
It was all too easy. Something was
rotten about the whole thing. The
Peoplesfriend agreed too readily to
things that seemed to be to his dis-
advantage. The discussion con-
tinued for several hours, during
which both men presented view-
points and postponed agreement
until a later meeting.
"Stockpiles of fissionable mate-
rial," said the President, "which
could quickly be converted to
weapons use should also be dis-
Ivan frowned. "I mentioned be-
fore that we have no need of atomic
armaments, nor any plans for build-
ing them. Our defense is secured by
something entirely different, a
weapon which serves an industrial
function in time of peace, and a
weapon which I might add was
largely responsible for our aban-
doning Marxism. A single discov-
ery, Andrei Sorkin's, made com-
munist doctrine not only a wrong
solution, but a wrong solution to a
problem that had ceased to exist."
"What problem are you referring
"The use of human beings as au-
tomatic devices in a corporate ma-
chine — the social-structure of in-
dustry, in which the worker was
caught and bolted down and ex-
pected to perform a single, highly
specialized task. That of course, is
almost a definition of the word
'proletarian'. We no longer have a
true proletariat. For that reason, we
are no longer Marxist — although
the name 'communist' has survived
with its meaning changed."
The conference ended after set-
ting the time for another meeting.
John Smith XVI felt that he had
been groping in the dark, because
of the information-vacuum that
kept him from even making a rea-
sonable guess as to Ivan's real aims.
He kept feeling vaguely that Ivan
was just playing along, reacting ac-
cording to the opportunity of the
moment, not particularly caring
what Smith did next. But leaders of
states just did not proceed so care-
lessly — not unless they were fools,
or unless they were supremely con-
fident in the ultimate outcome.
THE INTELLIGENCE service
analysis of his latest conversation
with Ivan gave him something to
WALTER MILLER, Jr.
think about later however. Andrei
Sorkin had been a physicist who
had done considerable work in
crystal-structure before the Big Si-
lence had cut off knowledge of his
activities from the West. Further,
the Peoplesfriend's references to in-
dustrial usage, coupled with his re-
marks about specialized labor,
seemed to suggest that the East had
made great strides in servo-mecha-
nisms and auto-control devices. But
control devices were not weapons
in themselves. Electronic rocket-
pilots were not weapons unless
there were rockets for them to fly.
Automatic target-trackers were not
weapons unless they guided a weap-
on to shoot at the target. It made
litde sense; he concluded that Ivan
had not meant it to make much
sense. Smith could only interpret it
as meaning: "Our weapons are
marvelously controlled; therefore
we need fewer of them."
On the probe front, events were
about as usual. The lists of suspects
and convictions grew bulky enough
to keep a large office staff busy with
details. More sinister, in the Presi-
dent's judgment, was the small list
of suspects who vanished or com-
mitted suicide at the slightest hint
of suspicion. The list grew at a slow
but steady pace. John assumed that
these were certainly guilty. And
thorough, searching inquiries into
their past activities, were made.
These post mortem probes revealed
nothing. Their records were clean.
Their families, friends, relatives,
and even their ancestors were above
suspicion. If they had sold out to
the enemy, they had given him
nothing in return for his wages ex-
cept perhaps a promise to be ful-
filled on a Deadline Day.
He called the Secretary of De-
fense and demanded a screening
procedure be adopted for future
personnel, a procedure which
would be aimed at selecting men
with fanatic loyalty, rather than
merely guarding against treason.
"We seem to already have some-
thing," murmured the Secretary, a
slender, graying gentleman with
aristocratic features. "The inci-
dents at the satellite-project seem
to indicate that there's something
they don't like about our ordinary
"Eh? How do you mean?"
"Three men — volunteers for the
project — vanished as soon as they
found out that they had to submit
to all the physicals, mental tests,
and so forth. I don't know what
they were afraid of. They were al-
ready on the reservation. Found out
they'd have to be tested again, and
vanished. One a known suicide, but
the body's still in the river."
" 'Tested again'?" the President
"That's right, John. They'd gone
through it before. This was just a
recheck for this particular project.
Of course, I don't know that they
"Mmm ! So they can't stand a re-
check. All right, recheck every-
"John! A third of the population
works for the government!"
"I mean everybody connected
with new projects, the most impor-
tant installations. This might be a
weapon for us."
When he received the Secretary's
report a week later, John grinned
happily. The rechecks had begun,
CHECK AND CHECKMATE
and the disappearances were
mounting. But the grin faded when
he read the rest of it. Two of the
men had been caught attempting
to escape. They had been lodged in
a local jail to await transfer to the
capitol. During the night, the jail-
er became aware of a blinding
light from the cell-blocks and the
stench of burnt organic matter. By
the time he reached their cells, the
men were gone, and there were
only sickening fumes, charred ashes,
and a pair of red-hot patches on
the floor. Somehow they had gotten
incendiary materials into their cells,
and the cremation was complete —
too complete to be credible.
Then the disappearances began
to taper off — until finally, after a
few weeks, they ceased completely.
He wondered : were the culprits all
ferretted out, or had some of them
managed to get around the re-
He had spoken to the Asian lead-
er several times, and Ivan was
growing curt, even bitingly nasty at
times. The President hopefully in-
terpreted it as a sign that his probe
was successful enough to worry the
Red. He tried to strengthen his po-
sition with respect to the proposed
conferences, and made only minor
concessions such as agreeing to a
coastal city in Mexico as the site,
rather than the shifting capitol.
Ivan sneeringly made equally min-
ute adjustments eastward from
Singapore. There was apparently
going to be a deadlock, and John
was somehow not sorry.
Then the cold-eyed face on the
screen did an abrupt about-face,
and announced, "I propose that
the delegates, including the leaders
of both states, meet at a site of your
selection in either of the neutral
polar regions, not later than Sev-
enthday of Veto Week — which, I
think is your Fried Pie Week? —
and come prepared to discuss and
exchange information relating to
size of armament-inventories and
future plans. This is my last pro-
THEY STARED at each other
coldly. John started to utter a
refusal, then paused. Seventhday of
... it was one day before the satel-
lite program began moving into
space. If he could keep the Eastern
Leader tied up 'for a few weeks aft-
"I'll consider your proposal and
give you a reply tomorrow," he said
The Peoplesfriend gave him a
curt nod and clicked off the screen.
John chuckled. The enemy's es-
pionage program was evidently get-
ing badly hurt. About one percent
of the West's population had been
executed, imprisoned, or shifted to
other jobs as a result of the congres-
sional probe. The one percent prob-
ably included quite a few guilty
"Rodner, I want a Strike-Day
set, a full-scale blitz-operation
readied as soon as possible," he told
the defense-chief. "I know that a
lot of your target information is
forty years old, but work out the
best plan you can. A depopulation
strike, perhaps; there are only two
opinions in the world, so 'world-
opinion' is not one of the things we
need to consider."
The Defense Secretary caught his
WALTER MILLER, Jr.
breath and sat stiffly erect. "War?"
"Don't use that word."-
"No. At least I hope not. I want
a gun aimed at them as a bargain-
ing point. But I want it to be a
damned big gun, and one that's
capable of shattering every major
city in the East on a few hours'
notice. How effective could you
make it — if you had to?"
The Secretary frowned doubt-
fully and tugged at his ear. "Well,
John, our strategic command has
kept a running plan in effect, re-
vising it to allow for every tidbit of
information we can get. Planning
continental blitzes is a favorite past-
time around high-level strategic
commands; it keeps the boys in
trim. A plan could probably be
agreed upon in a very short time,
but its nature would depend on
your earliest deadline date."
"Two dates," grunted the trag-
edy-mask. "The first is Seventh-
day, Fried Pie Week. I want a
maximum possible effort readied by
then, with a plan that allows for a
possible stand-by at that date, and
a continued build-up to a greater
maximum — to be reached when the
satellite station is in space and
ready for battle. Include the station
in the extended plan."
"This is a very dangerous busi-
The mask whirled. "Do you pre-
sume to — ?"
"No, Sir. The strike-effort will be
prepared as soon as possible." He
bowed slightly, then left the presi-
Smith turned to gaze at his
Stand-ins. "You will go," he said,
"all of you, to the examining au-
thorities for the standard loyalty
tests and psych-phys rechecks."
The nine masked figures glanced
at one another in surprise, then
nodded. There were no protests.
The following day he had only
seven Stand-ins; Four and Eight
had been trapped in a burning
building on the outskirts of the rab-
ble city, and their remains had not
Smith kept a tight cork on his
rage, but it seethed inside him and
threatened to burn through as the
time approached to speak again
with Ivan Ivanovitch IX. The ene-
my's infiltration into the very ranks
of the Presidency robbed him even
of dignity. Furthermore, now that
the two scoundrels were uncovered, .
and dead, he remembered a very
unpleasant but significant fact: he
had, even before his "election" by
the rabble, discussed the teleview-
phone conferences with the Pri-
maries. The idea of contacting Ivan
had started, as most ideas start,
from some small seed or other that
could scarcely be remembered,
some off-hand reference to the cost-
ly aspects of the Big Silence per-
haps, and it had grown into the
plan for contact. But how had the
idea first come to him? Had one of
the guilty Stand-ins perhaps
planted the seed in his mind? After
he proposed it, they had seemed de-
murring" at first, but not too long.
• Grimly, he realized that the idea
might have originated on the far
side of the Pacific.
"Who, pray, is the potter, and
who the pot?" he grunted, glower-
ing at the nearest Stand-in.
"I beg your pardon?" answered
CHECK AND CHECKMATE
the man, who could not . see the
glower for the mask.
"Khayyam, you fool!"
"Sixteen o'clock!" cheeped the
timepiece on the wall. "Fifthday,
Anti-Rabies Week, Practice-Eu-
genics Week; Happy 2073; Peep!"
IVAN CAME on the screen, but
John did not bother to remove
his mask. He sat down quickly and
began speaking before any greeting
could be exchanged.
"I have decided to accept your
last proposal. I specify the meeting
place as the deserted weather sta-
tion at the old settlement of Thar-
viana in the Byrd-Ellsworth Sector
of Antarctica. Date to be Seventh-
day of Fried Pie Week. Advance
cadres of personnel from both sides
should meet at the side two weeks
earlier to make repairs and prepa-
rations. Do you agree?"
Ivan nodded impatiently, his
dark eyes watching the President
closely. Smith went on to suggest
limits for the size of both cadres,
their equipment, and the kind of
transportation. Ivan made only
one suggestion: that the details,
such as permissible arms and
standards of conduct, be left to the
cadre commanders to settle be-
tween themselves before the lead-
ers' parties arrived.
"Your continual espionage ac-
tivities," Smith said coldly, "do not
recommend your government as
one to be trusted in the matter of
agreements without guarantees. My
cadre commander will be instructed
as to details."
The Asian grunted. "You speak
of trust, yet violate it in advance by
preparing an assault against us."
They glared at each other. After
a few more words, the conversation
ended abruptly, and the matter was
It was Antarctic Summer. The
sun lay low in the north, but clouds
threatened to obscure it, and a for-
bidding coastline hulked under the
ugly sky. A small group of ships
sulked to the east, and watched an-
other group that sulked to the west.
Two rows of buoys marked an ice-
free strip across the choppy face of
A speck appeared in the north,
grew larger, became a giant sea-
plane. It circled once, then swooped
majestically down between the
rows of buoys, its atomic-fired jets
breathing heat over the water. It
slid between streamers of spray
until slowly it came to a coasting
halt and rode on the rise and the
fall of the sea. A section of its back
rolled open. It pushed a helicopter
up into view. The helicopter un-
folded its rotors, spun them, then
climbed lazily aloft like a beetle
that had ridden the eagle. It
soared, and travelled inland. The
sea-plane taxied west to join one
group of ships.
The helicopter landed near a
long, windowless concrete building
which lay in the shadow of an old
control-tower's skeleton. The tower
was twisted awry, and the concrete
was pock-marked by shrapnel or
bullets dating back to one of the
peace-efforts. The President, two
Stand-ins, and the pilot climbed
from the helicopter. A small de-
tachment of troops presented arms.
WALTER MILLER, Jr.
The cadre commander, a major
general, approached the delegation
formally, gave it a salute, and took
the President's hand.
"The Peoplesfriend is already in
the conference hall, Sir, with several
of his aides. Do you wish to enter
now, or- — "
"Where are their troops?"
"Over there, Sir. As you know,
we could not agree to completely
disarm the site. Only inside the
"No, sir. Their men. are well-dis-
"Then let's go and get started.
I assume that you're in constant
contact with the capitol?"
"Yes, Sir. Televiewphone relay
chain all the way up."
John looked around. The Peo-
plesfriend's helicopter was parked
not far away, and beyond it stood a
platoon of the Peoplesfriend's
troops, lightly armed as his own.
An Asian and a Western guard
flanked the entrance to the build-
ing, but their only weapons were
police-clubs. The party entered
slowly and stood for a moment just
inside the heavy door that swung
closed behind them. John Smith
removed his mask.
THE DULL voice .called it from
the far end of the gloomy hall
where Ivan Ivanovitch IX sat fac-
ing him, flanked by a pair of aides,
at a long, plain table. John Smith
XVI advanced with dignity toward
him. Curt bows were exchanged,
but no handshakes. The Western
delegation took their seats.
John nudged the Stand-in on his
right, who immediately opened a
portfolio to extract a sheaf of pa-
"Would you care to exchange
prepared statements to begin
with?" Smith asked coolly.
"We have no—" The Peoples-
friend stopped, smirked coldly at
his deputies but continued to frown.
He peered thoughtfully at his huge
knuckles for a moment, then
nodded slowly. "A statement — yes."
John slid a section of the sheaf of
papers to the Peoplesfriend. The
Red leader ignored them, spoke to
a deputy curtly.
"Give me a sheet of paper."
The deputy fumbled in a thin
briefcase, shook his head and mut-
tered. Finally he found a dog-eared
sheet with only a few lines typed
across the top. He glanced ques-
tioningly at his leader. Ivan
snatched it with a low grunt, tore
off the good half, produced a stub-
by, gnawed pencil, and wrote slow-
ly as if his hands were cramped
with arthritis. John could see the
big block-letters but not the words.
"My prepared statement," said
With that he pushed the scrap of
paper across the table. John stared,
and felt the blood leaving his face.
The prepared statement said :
I VETO YOU.
"Is this a joke?" he growled,
keeping his voice calm. "You can-
not mean that you reject proposals
before they are made? I fail to see
the humor in — "
"There is no humor."
John pushed back his chair,
glanced at his men. "Gentlemen, it
would appear that we have come
CHECK AND CHECKMATE
to the bottom of the world for
nothing. I think we had better re-
tire to discuss — "
"Sit down," the Asian growled.
"Why — " The President stopped.
One of the Red deputies had pro-
duced a gun. He sat, and stared
coldly at the eastern leader. "Have
your man dispose of that weapon.
This is a conference table."
The Peoplesfriend grunted an
order to the other deputy instead.
"Stay back," Smith droned. "I
can kill you all quite easily."
The deputy hesitated. The leader
started laughing, then checked it.
"May I ask how?"
John smiled. "Stay back, or you
will find out too quickly." He un-
zipped his heavy Arctic clothing,
removed a heavy container, shaped
to conform to his chest, and laid it
on the table. A cord ran from the
container into his sleeve.
The Peoplesfriend laughed.
"High explosives? You would not
set them off. However — Jacob, let
them keep their weapons. This will
be over shortly."
They glared at each other for a
"There is no conference?"
"There is no conference."
"Then why this farce?"
The eastern leader wore a tight
smile. He glanced at his watch, be-
gan counting backwards: "Seven,
six, five, four — "
When he reached zero, there was
a long pause; then a sharp whistle
"Your men are now disarmed,"
said the Asian. "Your cadre com-
mander is ours."
"Impossible! The recheck — "
"He joined us since the recheck.
Further, three of your teleview-
phone stations in the relay chain
are ours, and are relaying recorded
broadcasts prepared especially for
"I don't believe it!"
THE ASIAN shrugged. "In addi-
tion, your entire defense system
will be in our hands within six days
— while your nation imagines that
we are here conferring on disarma-
"Ridiculous!" the President sput-
tered. "No system of infiltration or
subversion could — "
"Your people were not subverted,
Smith. They were merely replaced
by ours. Your two Stand-ins, for in-
stance, the ones that died in the
fire. They were not the original
"You could not possibly find
exact doubles — " Something about
the Asian's smile made his voice
He picked up the container of
explosives and prepared to rise. "I
am going to walk out. And you are
going with me. We will return in
a helicopter to my plane. Let me ex-
plain this mechanism. I have no
control over the detonator, for it is
not a suicide device. The detonator
can be triggered only by either of
"Which are?" The Peoplesfriend
"The relay would be closed by a
sudden drop in my arterial pressure.
Or by an attempt to remove it with-
out knowing how. I am going out,
and you are going with me."
WALTER MILLER, Jr.
"Because I am about to reach in
my pocket and produce a gun.
Your deputy cannot shoot without
blasting a fifty-foot crater where
this building now rests." Gingerly,
while he watched the wavering
deputy, he made good the promise.
He kept the snub-nosed automatic
aimed at the easterner's belly.
But the Peoplesfriend continued
to smile. "May I say something be-
fore we go?"
There was a sour mockery about
it that made Smith pause. He
"I hoped to keep you here alive,
so that we would not have to
destroy the whole mission, includ-
ing the ships. Of course, when the
building is blown up, your little
fleet will see and hear and try to
respond, and we shall have to
destroy it before word can be gotten
to your capital. Our plans included
that possibility, but it is unfor-
"Our aircraft will — "
"You do not seem to realize the
nature of our weapons yet. And
there is no harm in telling you now,
"We have a microscopic crystal-
line relay, so small that millions of
them can be packed into a few
cubic inches. The crystals are
minute tetrahedrons, with each
pointed corner an _ electrical con-
tact. And there is a 'method for ar-
ranging them in circuits without in-
dividual attention to each connec-
tion. It involves certain techniques
in electro-plating and the growing
Smith glanced questioningly at
one of his Stand-ins, a weapons ex-
pert. The man shook his head.
"I can see," he muttered, "how
it might replace a lot of bulky cir-
cuit elements in some electronics
work — particularly computers and
servo-mech ani sms — but — ' '
"Indeed," said Ivan, "We have
built many so-called 'thinking-
machines' no larger than a human
"For self-piloting weapons, I sup-
pose?" asked the Stand-in.
"For self-piloting weapons."
"I fail to see how this could do
what you seem to think."
The Peoplesfriend snorted. "Ja-
cob — ?" He nodded to the dep-
uty, who immediately fumbled in
his pocket, found a penknife,
opened it, and handed it to Ivan.
He laid his finger on the table.
He cut it off at the second joint
with the penknife. There was no
blood. Flesh of soft plastic Tendons
of nylon. Bones of bakelite.
"Our leader," the robot said, "is
still in Singapore."
The President looked at the robot
and a great, weariness swept over
him. Suddenly it all seemed futile —
a senseless game, played by mad-
men, dancing over countless graves
— playing tag among the tomb-
Check and checkmate. But al-
ways there was a way out. Never a
final move. Life eternal and with
life, the eternal plotting and schem-
ing. And never a final victor.
Almost regretfully, the President
turned his mind back to the affair
- THE END -
No one knew, no one cared. For a great lethargy was
overcoming the people and their only salvation was —
By Rory Magill
Illustrated by TED SPEICHER
THE EXPLOSION brought
Jim Peters upright in bed. He
sat there, leaning back on the heels
of his hands, blinking stupidly at
the wall. His vision cleared and he
looked down at Myra, just stirring
beside him. Myra opened her eyes.
Jim said, "Did you feel that?"
Myra yawned. "I thought I was
dreaming. It was an explosion or
something, wasn't it?"
Jim's lips set grimly. After ten
years of cold war, there was only
one appropriate observation, and
he made it. "I guess maybe this is
As by common agreement, they
got out of bed and pulled on their
robes. They went downstairs and
out into the warm summer night.
Other people had come out of their
homes also. Shadowy figures moved
and collected in the darkness.
"Sounded right on top of us."
"I was looking out the window.
Didn't see no flash."
"Must have been further away
than it seemed."
This last was spoken hopefully,
and reflected the mood of all the
people. Maybe it wasn't the bomb
Oddly, no one had thought to
consult a radio. The thought struck
them as a group and they broke
into single and double units again
— hurrying back into the houses.
Lights began coming on here and
Jim Peters took Myra's hand, un-
consciously, as they hurried up the
porch steps. "Hugh would know,"
Jim said. "I kind of wish Hugh was
Myra laughed lightly — a calcu-
lated laugh, meant to disguise the
gravity of this terrible thing.
"That's not very patriotic, Jim. If
The fifth "one" exploded in the Mexican desert.
THE LAST GENTLEMAN
that was the bomb, Hugh will be
kept busy making other bombs to
send back to them."
"But he'd know. I'll bet he could
tell just by the sound of it." Jim
smiled quietly in the darkness —
proudly. It wasn't everybody who
had a genius for a brother. A nu-
clear scientist didn't happen in
every family. Hugh was somebody
to be proud of.
They turned on the radio and
sat huddled in front of it. The tubes
warmed with maddening slowness.
Then there came the deliberately
impersonal voice of the announcer:'
" — on the strength of reports
now in, it appears the enemy
bungled badly. Instead of crippling
the nation, they succeeded only in
alerting it. The bombs — at this time
there appear to have been five of
them dropped — formed a straight
north-south line across western
United States. One detonated close
to the Idaho-Utah line. The other
four were placed at almost equi-
distant points to the south — the
fifth bomb, according to first re-
ports, exploding in a Mexican
desert. We have been informed that
Calas, Utah, a town of nine hun-
dred persons, has been completely
annihilated. For further reports,
keep tuned to this station."
A dance band cut in. Jim got up
from his chair. "They certainly did
bungle," he said. "Imagine wasting
four atom bombs like that."
Myra got up also. "Would you
like some coffee?"
"That'd be a good idea. I don't
feel like going back to bed. I want
to listen for more reports."
But there were no more reports.
An hour passed. Another and an-
other. Jim spun the dials and got
either silence or the cheerful
blatherings of some inane disc
jockey who prattled on as though
nothing had happened.
Finally Jim snapped the set off.
"Censorship," he said. "Now we're
going to see what it's really like."
In the morning they gathered
again in groups — the villagers in
this little community of five hun-
dred, and discussed the shape of
things to come, as they visualized
"It'll take a little time to get into
action," old Sam Bennett said.
"Even expecting it, and with how
fast things move these days — it'll
"If they invade us — come down
from the north — you think the
government will let us know they're
"You can't tell. Censorship is a
funny thing. In the last war, we
knew more about what was going
on in Europe than the people that
At that moment, old Mrs. Ken-
dal fainted dead away and had to
be carried home. Three men car-
ried her and Tom Edwards was
one of them. "Kind of heavy, ain't
she?" Tom said. "I never thought
Mary weighed much more than a
That night the village shook. In
his home, Jim staggered against the
wall. Myra fell to the floor. There
were two tremors — the second
worse than the first. Then things
steadied away, and he helped
Myra to her feet.
"But there wasn't any noise,"
Myra whispered. The whisper was
loud in the silence.
"That was an earthquake," Jim
said. "Nothing to worry about.
Might be one of the bomb's after
The quake did ne great damage
in the village, but it possibly con-
tributed to old Mrs. Kendal's
death. She passed on an hour later.
"Poor old lady," a neighbor told
Myra. "She was plain weary. That
was what she said just before she
closed her eyes. 'Hazel' she said,
'I'm just plumb tuckered.' "
The neighbor wiped her face
with her apron and turned toward
home. "Think I'll lie down for a
spell. I'm tuckered myself. Can't
take things like I used to."
NOW IT WAS a week after the
earthquake — two weeks after
the falling of the bombs, and the
town went on living. But it was
strange, very strange. Art Cordell
voiced the general opinion when
he said, "You know, we waited a
long time for the thing to happen
— we kind of visualized, maybe,
how it'd be. But I didn't figure it'd
be anything like this."
"Maybe there isn't any war,"
Jim said. "Washington hasn't said
"But isn't that carrying censor-
ship a little too far? The people
ought to be told whether or not
they're at war."
But the people didn't seem to
cue. A deadening lethargy had
mi i led over them. A lethargy they
felt and questioned in their own
minds, hut didn't talk about,
unK'h, Talking itself seemed to
have become an effort.
This continued weariness — this
dragging of one foot after another
— was evidently the result of radia-
tion from the bombs. What other
place could it come from? The
radiation got blamed for just about
everything untoward that hap-
pened. It caused Jenkin's apples to
fall before they were half-ripe.
Something about it bent the young
wheat to the ground where it mil-
dewed and rotted.
Some even blamed the radiation
for the premature birth of Jane El-
man's baby, even though such
things had happened before even
gun powder was invented.
But it certainly was a strange
war. Nothing came over the radio
at all. Nobody seemed to care,
really. Probably because they were
just plain too tired. Jim Peters
dragged himself to and from work
in sort of a daze. Myra got her
housework done, but it was a
greater effort every day. All she
could think of was the times she
could drop on the lounge for a rest.
She didn't care much whether a
war was going on or not.
People had quit waiting for them
to come down from the north. They
knew that the places where the
bombs had fallen were guarded like
Fort Knox. Nobody got in or out.
Jim remembered the flash, the
color, the rumors, the excitement
of World War Two. The grim reso-
lution of the people to buckle down
and win it. Depots jammed. Kids
going off to join.
But nobody went to join this
war. That was funny. Somehow
Jim hadn't thought of that before.
None of the kids was being called
up. Did they have enough men?
THE LAST GENTLEMAN
Washington didn't say. Washington
didn't say anything.
And the people didn't seem to
care. That was the strange thing,
when you could get your tired mind
to focus on it.
The people didn't care. They
were too busily occupied with the
grim business of putting one foot
in front of the other.
Jim got home one evening to find
Myra staring dully at a small hand-
full of ground meat. "That's a
pound," she said.
Jim frowned. "What do you
mean? That little bit?"
Myra nodded. "I asked for a
pound of hamburger and Art put
that much on the scale. In fact not
even that much. It said a pound. I
saw it. But there was such a little
bit that he felt guilty and put some
Jim turned away. "I'm not hun-
gry anyhow," he said.
AT TEN that night, after they
. were in bed, a knock sounded
on the door. They had been in bed
three hours, because all they could
think of as soon as they had eaten
was getting into bed and staying
there until the last possible minute
on the following morning.
But the knock came and Jim
went down. He called back up-
stairs with more life than he'd
shown in a long time, "Myra —
come down. It's Hugh. Hugh's
come to see us."
And Myra came down quickly —
something she hadn't done for a
long time either.
Hugh seemed weary and drawn,
but his smile was the same. Hugh
hadn't changed a great deal from
the gangling kid who never studied
mathematics in school but always
had the answers. It came natural
During the coffee that Myra
made, Hugh said, "Had quite a
time getting here. Trains disrupted.
All air lines grounded. But I
wanted to see you again before — "
"Then there is a war," Jim said.
"We've been kind of. wondering
out here. With the censorship we
don't get any news and the people
hereabouts have almost forgotten
the bombs I guess."
Hugh stared into his coffee cup
for a long time. "No — there isn't
any war." Hugh grinned wryly. "I
don't think anybody in the world
has got enough energy left to fight
"There was one then? One that's
over?" Jim felt suddenly like a fool,
sitting here on a world that might
have gone through a war stretching
from pole to pole, and asking if it
had happened as though he lived
on Mars somewhere — out of touch.
But that's the way it was.
"No there wasn't any war."
"You mean our government shot
off those bombs themselves? You
know I thought it was funny. Land-
ing out in the desert that way like
"Old Joe would have hit for Chi-
cago or Detroit or New York. It
was silly to say bombs dropped on
the desert came from an enemy."
"No — the government didn't fire
Myra set her cup down. "Jim,
stop asking Hugh so many ques-
tions. He's tired. He's come a long
way. The questions can wait."
"Yes — I guess they can. We'll
show you where your room is,
As she opened the window of the
spare bedroom, Myra stood for a
moment looking out. "Moon's cer-
tainly pretty tonight. So big and
yellow. Wish I wasn't too tired to
They went to bed then, in the
quiet home under the big yellow
moon over the quiet town. A moon
over a quiet country — over a weary,
Jim didn't go to work the next
day. He hadn't planned to stay
away from work, but he and Myra
awoke very late and it was then
that he made up his mind. For a
long time, they lay in bed, not even
the thought of Hugh being around
and all the things they wanted to
talk about, could bring them out of
bed until they felt guilty about not
Hugh was sitting on the front
porch watching the still trees in the
yard. There was a breeze blowing,
but it wasn't enough to move the
leaves. Every leaf hung straight
down, not stirring, and the grass
seemed matted and bent toward the
Myra got breakfast. She dropped
the skillet while transferring the
eggs to a platter but she got her
foot out of the way so no harm was
done. After breakfast the men went
back outside. Jim moved automati-
cally toward a chair.
Then he stopped and frowned.
Up straightened deliberately. He
turned and looked at his brother.
I li said, "Hugh. You're a man that
knows. What s wrong? What did
(hose bombs do to us? Tell me. I've
got to know."
Hugh was silent for a time. Then
he said, "Feel up to a walk?"
"Certainly. Why not?"
They went to the edge of town
and out into a pasture and stopped
finally by a brook where the water
After a while, Hugh said, "Pm
not supposed to tell anybody any-
thing, but somehow it doesn't seem
decent — keeping the truth from
your own brother. And what dif-
ference does it make — really?"
"What's happened, Hugh."
"There weren't any bombs."
"It happened this way. Long be-
fore this Earth was formed, a mil-
lion light years out in space, a white
dwarf died violently."
"You're talking in riddles."
Hugh looked up into the blue
sky. "A dwarf star, Jim. So incred-
ibly heavy, it would be hard for
you to conceive of its weight. This
star blew up — broke into five pieces
and the five pieces followed each
other through space. This world
was formed in the meantime —
maybe even this galaxy — we don't
know. So the five pieces of heavy
star had a rendezvous with a world
unborn. The world was born and
grew old and then the rendezvous
was kept. Right on schedule. On
some schedule so huge and ponder-
ous we can't even begin to under-
"The five bombs."
"They hit the earth in a line and
drove deep into the ground. But
that was only the beginning. It all
has to do with magnetism — the way
they kept right on burrowing to-
ward the center of our earth —
THE LAST GENTLEMAN
causing the earthquakes — causing
apples to fall from trees." Hugh
turned to glance at Jim. "Did you
know you weigh around six hun-
dred pounds now?"
"I haven't weighed myself
"We checked and found out
what the stuff was. We'd never seen
anything like it before. That star
was a real heavyweight. AH the
pieces are drawing together toward
the center of earth. But they'll
never get there."
"We're doomed, Jim. Earth is
doomed. That's the why of this
censorship. We didn't want panics
— mass suicide — a world gone
"How's it going to come?"
"If allowed to run its course, the
world would come to a complete
standstill. Nothing would grow.
People would move slower and
slower until they finally fell in their
tracks and could not get up. Eternal
night on one side of a dead planet
— eternal day on the other."
"But it's not going to happen?"
Hugh's mind went off on another
track. "You know, Jim — I've never
been a religious man. In fact I've
only had one concept of God. I be-
lieve that God — above all, is a gen-
Jim said nothing and after a mo-
ment, Hugh went on. "Do you
know what they do when they exe-
cute a man by firing squad?"
"What do they do?"
"After the squad fires its volley,
the Captain steps up to the fallen
man and puts a bullet through his
brain. The man is executed for a
reason, but the bullet is an act of
mercy — the act of a gentleman.
"We are being executed for a
reason we can't understand, and
the bullet has already been fired,
Jim. Another ten hours — eleven
"Look up there. See it? The
Jim looked dully into the sky.
"It's bigger — a way bigger."
"Hurtling in toward us at ever
increasing speed. When it hits — "
Jim looked at his brother with
complete understanding at last.
"When it hits — we won't be here
"That's right. A quick, easy
death for the world — from the bul-
let fired by the Last Gentleman."
They turned back toward the
house. "Shall I tell Myra," Jim
"What do you think you should
"No — no, we won't tell her.
We've got ten hours."
"Yes — we've got ten hours."
"Let's go home and have some
It matters not whether you believe or disbelieve.
Reality is not always based on logic; nor, partic-
ularly, are the laws of the universe ...
Ye of Little Faith
By Rog Phillips
Illustrated by TOM BEECHAM
THE DISAPPEARANCE of John
Henderson was most spectacular.
It occurred while he was at the
blackboard working an example in
multiple integration for his ten
o'clock class. The incompleted
problem remained on the board for
three days while the police worked
on the case. It, a wrist watch and a
sterling silver monogramed belt
buckle, lying on the floor near
where he had stood, were all the
physical evidence they had to go on.
There was plenty of eye-witness
evidence. The class consisted of
forty-three pupils. They all had
their eyes on him in varying degrees
of attention when it happened.
Their accounts of what happened
all agreed in important details.
Even as to what he had been say-
In the reports that went into the
police files he was quoted with a
high degree of certainty as having
said, "Integration always brings
into the picture a constant which
was not present. This constant of
integration is, in a sense, a variable.
But a different type of variable than
the mathematical unknown. It
might be said to be a logical vari-
The students were in unanimous
agreement and, at this point, Dr.
Henderson came to an abrupt stop
in his lecture. Suddenly, an expres-
sion of surprise appeared on his
face. It was succeeded by an excla-
mation of triumph. And he simply
vanished from the spot. -
He didn't fade away, rise, drop
into the floor, or take any time van-
ishing. He simply stopped being
The police searched his room in
the nearby Vanderbilt Arms Hotel,
They turned a portrait of the miss-
ing math professor to the
newspapers to publish. Arbright
He just wasn't there any more.
University offered a reward of one
hundred dollars to anyone who had
The police also found a savings
pass book in his room. It had a bal-
ance of three thousand eight hun-
dred and forty dollars, which had
been built up to that figure by
steady monthly deposits over a pe-
riod of years. It also had a with-
drawal of three hundred and twen-
ty dollars two days before the dis-
appearance. They were sure they
were on the path to a motive. This
avenue of exploration came to an
abrupt end with the discovery that
he had traded in his last year's car
on a new one, and that sum had
been necessary to complete the deal.
After the third day the black-
board had been erased and the
classroom released for its regular
classes. Police enthusiasm dropped
to the norm of what they called leg-
work. Finding out who the missing
man's acquaintances and friends
were, calling on them and talking
to them in the hopes of picking up
something they could go on.
They passed Martin Grant by
because they had heard from him
in their initial work. In fact, he had
been a little too present for their
After ten days they dropped the
case from the active blotter. The
.University, seeing that there was
little likelihood of having to shell
out the reward money, increased it
to five hundred dollars.
But Martin Grant continued to
ponder ovf-r a conversation he him-
self had had with John Henderson
during a dinner six weeks to the
!day before his old friend had van-
ished. He remembered his own
words . . .
". . . and so you see, John, by
following this trail, I've arrived at
a theory that has to do with the
basic nature of the universe — of all
reality. Yet things don't behave as
they would if my theory were oper-
John Henderson frowned into
space, disturbed. Visibly disturbed.
Martin watched him with a twinkle
in his eyes.
"You must have gone off the
track on it somewhere, Martin,"
John said suddenly, as though try-
ing more to convince himself than
Martin shook his head with slow
positiveness. "You followed every
step. We spent four hours on it."
He took pity on his friend. "Don't
let it bother you. I regard it as just
an intellectual curiosity. I've in-
cluded it in my next book on that
A new voice broke in. "What is
it, Dad? One of your ten- thousand-
word shaggy dog jokes?" This from
Fred Grant, 16, student in the sen-
ior grade at the Hortense Barthol-
emew High School, and an only
child of Martin Grant.
"A little more respect toward
your father," Martin said with
"It was my theory."
John Henderson said, "But, Mar-
tin, I don't know what to think
now. Of course there must be some
fallacy that I've missed. The way
things stand though, I — " He
chuckled uncomfortably. "I begin
to doubt myself. I can't quite classi-
YE OF LITTLE FAITH
fy it as an intellectual curiosity."
"What else can you do with it?"
Martin said. "I know your trouble.
It's a common one. You have a ten-
dency to believe things or disbe-
lieve them. Now you've been pre-
sented with something your intel-
lect demands that you believe,
while your experience shouts, 'lie'."
"Is Fred able to understand it?"
Jqhn asked, smiling at the young-
ster with fond and unconscious con-
"Not yet," Fred smiled. "I'm
still in high school."
"And if you don't want to flunk
out you'd better be off to bed at
once," Martin told him.
"Yes, Father. Good night, Dr.
Fred's departure left a vacuum in
the conversation that took a min-
ute to fill. John Henderson frowned
himself back to where he had been
before the boy had arrived. When
he got there he frowned even more,
because it was a state of mental
confusion that seemed to have no
way of being resolved.
"Maybe we can get at it this
way," he said. "Let's postulate that
your theory is the only logical basis
on which reality can rest. B, quite
obviously reality does not rest on
this basis. We could make G, there-
fore, that reality doesn't rest on a
logical basis. But that doesn't seem
to satisfy me. Maybe C could be —
no — " He glanced at his watch,
lifted his eyebrows and stood up. "I
really didn't know it was so late.
I'll have to be going, Martin. An
eight o'clock lecture in the morn-
Martin made a wry face.
"You've awakened my own con-
science. I have an hour or two of
work yet before bedtime."
The two men went to the front
door. John said, "Thank your wife
again for me. Wonderful dinner.
You're lucky, Martin, to have such
a good cook."
THAT HAD BEEN six weeks be-
fore John Henderson vanished.
Martin Grant mentioned this visit
to Horace Smith, one of the teach-
ers in his department, and got him-
self and his wife invited for dinner
on the following Friday. Dinner
over, the two professors retired to
Two and a half hours later Hor-
ace had assimilated an*$ grasped
every detail of the theory. He then
leaned back in his chair and closed
his eyes, fingertips to temples, try-
ing to find some flaw. Finally he
shook his head. "It's no use," he
said. "Your theory is logically ines-
capable. But — " He frowned.
"Where does that place us? Prob-
ably where some schools of thought
have always suspected we would
wind up eventually. With the rea-
lization that the basic laws of the
universe can't be reached by logic
or even by experiment based upon
"I wouldn't say that," Martin
objected. "My theory is an intellec-
tual curiosity, that's all. That's the
way I present it in my latest book.
By the way, it's coming out soon.
Signed the contract a month ago."
He pulled his thoughts back to the
conversation. "After all, one must
hold onto the pragmatic approach
to reality. Here is a theory that
logic says must be the only possible
way a universe can be constructed
and operate. It's beautiful and log-
ically complete, but not applicable.
No pragmatic value."
"Congratulations on the book.
But, damn it," Horace said, "it at-
tacks my most basic faith. Logic.
"Faith?" Martin e c ho e d ,
amused. "Yes, perhaps you're right.
That's a word that's foreign to my
thinking. Belief is so unnecessary."
"You don't mean that."
"But I do."
Horace pondered. "I can prove
otherwise. You believe — as an ex-
ample — that your wife is faithful to
you." It was a statement rather
than a question.
"As a matter of fact — I don't. I
act upon the greater probability
that she is. I don't hire detectives
to follow her. Nor do I throw her
into situations to test her faithful-
ness. I admit the possibility that
she's unfaithful to me. If evidence
came that she was, I might confront
her with the evidence. Where does
belief become necessary?"
"Do you believe your son will be-
come a success in life?" Horace
"No. I've done everything I
could think of to increase the prob-
ability that he will. One of the
things I've done is to instill in him
the realization that belief is un-
necessary in thinking. Surely, as a
si ii ntist, you realize that nothing
vi- vise in science finds its value Or
v ilulity from human belief. If, to-
il i row, evidence were brought
liith that trigonometry is based on
i .1 M.icy I'm Mire that mathemati-
cs hi would use that evidence to
nvisc their entire field."
"But belief is instinctive; as in-
stinctive as thought itself."
"I admit it's a natural way of
thinking. It has to be weeded out."
"So you're sure you don't believe
in anything," Horace said slyly.
"Such statements are verbal
traps," Martin said. "They mean
nothing. You want me to imply
that I believe I believe nothing, and
therefore I have at least one be-
lief. But as a matter of fact I've
built up a sort of mental mecha-
nism for discovering beliefs in my
thinking and dispelling them by go-
ing to the roots and showing myself
why I believed. Belief springs up in
the mind like weeds in a garden.
Constant weeding is the only so-
lution." He glanced at his watch
and frowned uneasily. "Eleven
o'clock. We'd better break this up
and join the women. We'll have to
get together again soon. By the way,
do you and your wife play Canasta?
My wife loves it."
They had been moving toward
the door. Now they entered the liv-
ing room, to find the two women
playing the game.
"Time we were going, dear,"
Martin said. "And sometime soon
make plans to have Horace and
Ethel over for an evening of four-
At the front door vows of an
early reunion were repeated. But
they were never to be fulfilled. On
the following Tuesday Horace
THIS TIME there were no actual
eye witnesses. The time was
somewhere between seven and sev-
en-ten Tuesday morning; the
YE OF LITTLE FAITH
place; Horace Smith's bathroom.
Ethel Smith was in the kitchen
preparing breakfast. Horace was
in the bathroom. He called out,
"Ethel! I've got it!"
"What have you got?"
But even as Ethel called out, she
heard the sound of the electric
razor falling to the tile floor, and
there was no answer from the bath-
room. Nothing but silence and, as
she described it later, a feeling that
she was alone in the house.
At the time, however, she wasn't
alarmed. She half expected some
muttered profanity over the drop-
ping of the razor. She didn't wait
for it exactly. Instead, she picked
up the spatula and expertly
scooped the eggs onto their two
plates and carried them to the
breakfast nook. Next she poured
the coffee. Then, placing some
bread in the toaster, she started
back to the stove, calling, "Come
and get it, Horace!"
At the stove she started to pick
up the aluminum dish containing
the bacon. She paused and repeat-
ed her call. "Horace!"
It wasn't until then that it oc-
curred to her the falling of the ra-
zor might have been an ominous
sound. Her mind filled with wor-
ried images, she rushed out of the
kitchen into the hall leading to the
The door was locked.
"Horace!" she called. "Are you
. all right?" When there was no an-
swer she pounded on the door.
"Horace! Speak to me!"
After that she ran outside and
around to the bathroom window.
It was shut and locked, as she al-
ready knew. Not only that, it had
been stuck for years.
With an urgency born of a reali-
zation that every second might
mean the difference between life
and death, she ran back into the
house and called the fire depart-
ment. Also the family doctor.
By nine-thirty the police had
been called in. By eleven o'clock
they had seen the parallel between
this disappearance and that of
Martin Grant's first reaction was
concern for Ethel. His second reac-
tion was that, twice, he had pre-
sented his theory to someone and
that person had vanished. His third
was accompanied by a twinge of
fear. He had just finished present-
ing his theory to the senior physics
This was followed by an amaz-
ing realization. He was conceding
that there might be a connection
between his theory and the disap-
pearances. He laughed it off, but it
returned. It disturbed him.
It continued to bother him on
Wednesday, so he began to search
his mind for reasons. Eventually he
found them. There was a distinct
analogy between a theory that
didn't agree with observable real-
ity, and a pair of disappearances
which violated known methods of
The analogy was so clear that he
began to feel there might be a func-
tional relation between the two. Of
course, he concluded, it would be
reasonably certain if a large num-
ber of the students in the senior
group were to vanish also.
This intellectual conclusion be-
came an anxiety neurosis.
So, on Wednesday — after he had
scanned the room anxiously to see
how many students were absent
and discovered to his intense re-
lief that they were all there; — he
spent the full hour lecturing on the
necessity — the vital necessity — of
unbelief in all things, especially
But would it work? He vaguely
remembered giving Horace a simi-
Wednesday night just before re-
tiring he had another disturbing
thought. He had explained the
theory to his son. But that had been
weeks before, and Fred was steeped
in the mechanism of unbelief. Good
thing, or he might have been the
first to disappear.
"What's the matter with you,
Martin? Can't you even answer
when — " The rest of what his wife
was saying faded in the startled rea-
lization that he was eating dinner.
"Sorry, dear," he murmured. "I
was thinking." He was trying to re-
call something that might tell him
what day it was. It was obviously
evening or they wouldn't be eating
dinner. "Uh," he said casually,
"what day is today?"
"Saturday," Fred said.
"Now Fred, don't tease your
father about his absent-minded-
ness. This is Thursday."
Thursday! That was right. He
had given the lecture on the neces-
sity of unbelief today. There was
tomorrow, when he could see if any
of the class had disappeared yet.
He couldn't be certain, of course.
Just In cause a student didn't show
up didn't mean he or she had van-
He fixed his eyes on Fred, across
the table, and smiled. Fred, at least,
was a source of comfort. He knew
the theory and hadn't vanished.
"Dad," Fred said. "I've been
wondering if you saw a point of
similarity in the two disappear-
Martin thought, good heavens,
does he have any inkling of what
I've been thinking? Of course not!
He's just fumbling. Better to dis-
courage him. "Sorry, son. There
aren't any similarities except acci-
dental ones. I've had the confidence
of the police on this. The cases are
Fred refused to be sidetracked.
"Dr. Henderson's face lit up as
though a sudden idea had struck
him. I talked with some of his stu-
dents. That's what they all thought.
And Horace Smith shouted to his
wife, 'Ethel! I've got it!' Thenext
instant in each case they vanished
into thin air."
"But that doesn't mean a thing."
IN THE PRIVACY of his study
Martin Grant allowed himself to
become excited. Fred had unwit-
tingly come upon the vital clue to
the two disappearances.
"Let's be clear about this," he
said to himself, drumming on his
desk nervously with his fingers.
"Undoubtedly there's a connection
between the vanishing and my
theory. Both Horace and John ar-
rived at something I've missed. And
since my theory is exhaustive it
can't be there. It must be — yes — it
must be that they went a step far-
ther." He pondered this a moment
and added grudgingly, "A step I
have missed." Then even more
grudgingly, "An obvious step."
YE OF LITTLE FAITH
Automatically he opened a draw-
er and brought out a sheet of paper
and a pencil. He wrote :
The theory contains within itself
the proof that the universe must,
by logical necessity, be constructed
according to said theory. But ob-
servation and experience say this is
He frowned at what he had writ-
ten. This was the conclusion to
which he had led both men. It was
the conclusion upon which he had
rested. They, obviously, had not
rested there. They had gone on.
Under what he had written he
wrote "Either:" on the left hand
margin. Two inches under it he
wrote, "Or:" Then he frowned at
them. Suddenly he began writing
rapidly after the Either: "The uni-
verse is not constructed according
to logical necessity."
He hesitated, studying what he
had written. Then, pursing his lips,
he slowly wrote after the Or: "the
observable universe is not the uni-
He nodded to himself. That hit
at the core of the matter. A was X.
B was not X. Therefore B was not
A. Even though A and B were both
The question was, then — did the
universe-of -logical-necessity exist?
If so, what relationship did it have
to the observable universe which
quite obviously did exist?
Was that the question, the an-
swer to which, gained in a moment
of insight, had caused two men to
He sighed with real regret. There
was no way of knowing. Possibly a
mechanical brain of the most ad-
vanced type could come out with
a comprehensive picture after solv-
ing thousands of successive equa-
tions. Knowledge of simple basics
was a far cry from a fully expand-
He pushed the sheet of paper
away with a show of irritation. He
was missing something. He was on
the wrong track. Neither John nor
Horace had the mental equipment
to make more than a simple step
beyond what he had accomplished.
That was certain. It was equally
certain that he could and would
A startled expression appeared
on his face. "Oh good lord!" he
groaned. "My book. I must do
something about that the first thing
tomorrow. I — " He opened the
drawer of his desk and took out an
oblong of paper, the check against
advance royalties. "I'll return this
and not let them publish it. First
thing in the morning. And from
now on I resolve not to think of
my theory or what caused John and
Horace to vanish."
Folding the check neatly, he
stuck it in his billfold and then
started to read a book that inter-
ested him. He became engrossed in
it. Half an hour later he came to
enough to realize he was on safe"
ground, sigh with relief, and sink
back into the trains of thought of
It was a nice feeling to know he
IT WAS FRIDAY. The sun was
shining brightly and the monot-
ony of the blue sky was relieved
here and there by filmy white
clouds that gave it a pleasing three-
But to Martin Grant there was
something unreal about things. He
decided it must be the light. Things
stood out with too sharp clarity.
When he reached his office at
the university he made arrange-
ments for a substitute to take his
ten o'clock class. Then he called
the publishing company and made
an appointment for ten-fifteen.
The hour from nine to ten
seemed interminably long. He
found it almost impossible to con-
centrate on such an unimportant
subject as the application of tensor
analysis to electronic circuits.
Ten o'clock came. He hurried to
the parking lot and got in his car.
It was real and comforting. But
once again everything outside the
windshield seemed too sharply de-
He timed himself on the way
across town to the publishing house.
He would have to allow himself
the same time to return for his
eleven o'clock class. It took twelve
minutes, plus another two to find a
parking place. Two minutes from
the car to the eleventh floor. He
was frowning at his watch as he en-
tered the publisher's office.
"Well well, Dr. Grant! Glad to
sec you. I suppose you're anxious to
see your book ready for market. It's
coining very well. Just came back
from the typesetters and is going
into its first printing right away."
"Huh?" Martin said, completing
his mental arithmetic and jerking
into an awareness of his surround-
in i's. "Oh. hello Mr. Browne," he
si i, I "I w.is just figuring my time.
I . ive an eleven o'clock class. I can
only stay twenty-seven minutes.
That gives me a three minute mar-
gin of error for traffic delays."
"I see," the publisher said, a
twinkle in his eye. "As I was just
saying, your book — "
"Oh yes, my book," Martin in-
terrupted. "Just a minute." He took
out his billfold and extracted the
check, handing it to Mr. Browne.
"What's this for?" Mr. Browne
asked, unfolding it. "Oh, the ad-
vance royalty check. Is something
wrong with it?"
"I'm returning it," Martin said.
"I can't let you publish my book."
"Can't let me publish it!"
Browne exclaimed. "Why not?
Don't tell me it infringes on some-
one else's copyright!"
"No. Nothing like that. I've
merely decided I don't want it pub-
lished. I'm returning your check."
"Well now, look!" Browne said.
"We're a business establishment.
You signed a contract. We signed
one too. It protects both of us
against just this sort of thing, you
know." He studied Martin thought-
fully. "Sit down and relax," he in-
vited. "I'm human. Tell me why
you don't want it published. May-
be I might agree with you. We have
over a thousand dollars tied up al-
ready in typesetting, but — "
Martin took the seat and glanced
nervously at his watch to make sure
the twenty-seven minutes hadn't
"I've just changed my mind," he
said curtly. "There are certain
things — I'm the head of a depart-
ment, you know. I must watch my
reputation. That's it, my reputa-
tion. On due reflection I believe the
book might hurt my standing."
"In what way?" Browne asked.
YE OF LITTLE FAITH
"To tell you the truth, your other
book did so well I didn't bother
reading this one."
"There's a — " Martin brought
himself up short. So Browne hadn't
read it. So much the better. At
least he wouldn't vanish. "I'm
afraid,'' he added with a self-con-
scious chuckle that he hoped was
genuine enough to pass, "the sub-
ject matter is a little too crackpot-
tish in spots. That's the whole
thing. It would reflect on my repu-
"Maybe we could do a little
editing on it," Browne said. "Cut
out the parts you think crackpottish
and substitute something else in
those pages. I'll get the galleys and
we can look at them."
"No!" Martin said. "No, I'm
afraid we would have to cut out at
least half of the book. No. The best
thing is to forget it, but I'll make
good your typesetting loss. I can
pay you two hundred dollars right
away and fifty dollars a month."
Browne lit a cigarette slowly, his
eyes on Martin. "You're serious,
aren't you," he said. "I'll tell you
what we'll do. We'll let the whole
thing ride for the present. Maybe
"No!" Martin said. "It must
never be published! It's very vital
that it never be published."
"Okay," Browne said. "We
won't publish it. We have the con-
tract, but — we won't publish it."
"Thanks, very much," Martin
said. "I must hurry back."
The publisher stared thoughtful-
ly at the closed door after Martin
had gone. He glanced down at the
IECTURE ROOM 304 was very
JL large, capable of holding four
hundred students in its successive
tiers of seats, plus the teacher on
his raised platform immediately in
front of the large blackboard. In
previous years there had been in-
stances of students slipping out aft-
er roll call. In spite of everything, it
Therefore a new system had been
inaugurated. Before roll call Mar-
tin marched to the back of the
room to the only exit and locked it.
Pocketing the key, he returned to
his podium. It had been going on
this way for two years, and was now
The day watchman, making his
rounds, approached this door at
precisely two thirty-four. He heard
violent pounding. Along with the
pounding there was a loud, hoarse
voice, gasping, "Lemme out! Lem-
The watchman consulted his
clock — the one he used to make a
record of his rounds — and deter-
mined that it was two thirty-four.
He knew that it was Dr. Grant's
senior theoretical physics lecture
period. He recalled that a couple of
years before Dr. Grant had had
trouble with students slipping out
after roll call. But it occurred to
him that it was hardly possible to
sneak out, even on Dr. Grant, ab-
sent-minded as he was, by pound-
ing on the door and shouting,
"Lemme out!" in a terrified tone of
He therefore stopped and
knocked on the door, calling,
"What's going on in there?"
' Whoever was doing the pound-
ing and shouting evidently didn't
hear him. Waiting no longer, the
day watchman used his master key
on the door.
A smallish young man, later
identified as Mark Smythe, at-
tempted to -run past him into the
hall. The watchman blocked
Mark's escape and looked toward
the podium in an automatic appeal
to Dr. Grant.
Dr. Grant was not there. The
podium was unoccupied. So were
all four hundred seats. There was,
in fact, no one in room 304 except
the one terrified student.
In due course the police arrived,
along with the regents. By five
o'clock it had become certain that
the greatest mass disappearance of
all times had occurred, with Mark
Smythe as the sole witness.
He stuck to his story through re-
peated detailed questionings, and
in the end the police were stuck
According to Smythe, class had
begun as usual. Dr. Grant had
waited until one minute after the
bell had sounded, then had
marched back and locked the door,
and returned to the front. He had
rapidly scanned the room to see if
there were any absences, quickly
called half a dozen names he was
uncertain of, and marked the at-
tendance slip. The police found it
still resting on the table where he
had placed it.
Then he had begun his lecture
by remarking that they were be-
hind schedule and would have to
catch up. He had been speaking
less tli, i u five minutes when a stu-
ili nt l»y the name of Marvin Green
jumped to his feet in great excite-
ment, waving his hand and shout-
ing, "Dr. Grant! Dr. Grant!"
Dr. Grant had stopped his lec-
ture and frowned darkly, then said,
"If you will please take your
seat — "
"But Dr. Grant!" Marvin Green
had interrupted him excitedly.
"I've got it! I've got it!"
What had happened then was
impossible for the mind to accept.
Marvin Green had simply ceased to
There had been a stunned si-
lence. And in that silence, it went
on. Student after student popping
out of existence in what seemed to
be a chain reaction.
He wasn't aware when Dr.
Grant vanished. All he knew was
that when at last he was alone he
looked toward the podium and the
professor was also gone.
He kept waiting to go himself.
When he didn't, he lost the fear
that had rooted him to the spot,
and rushed to the exit where he at
first tried to break down the door
and make his escape, then subsided
into pounding and shouting for
help when he realized his physical
strength was insufficient for the
Questioning didn't bring out any
additional fact, nor alter any state-
ment. There had been no sound to
the vanishing, no movement of the
person that could be considered
significant, no flashes of light, no
strange odors. Nothing.
FRED GRANT got the flash on
his hot rod radio on the way
home from high school.
At the end of the report Fred
wrote down Mark Smythe's ad-
YE OF LITTLE FAITH
dress on a scrap of paper, and
drove home to be with his mother.
It was three days before he could
On the morning of the third day,
his aunt Emily arrived to take
charge of things, and he was able
to slip away. He drove immediately
to Mark Smythe's address. It was
one of the better class rooming
houses near the campus. The land-
lady wasn't going to let him in nor
announce him until he explained
he was the son of the professor who
had vanished. She immediately
swung to the other extreme and
didn't bother to find out if Mark
wanted to see him.
"My father was your teacher,"
"Oh? Come on in."
There were tennis rackets. On
the bookshelves there were tennis
books. On a table there was a ten-
nis trophy. Otherwise there was
just a bed, a rug, and two or three
"I don't know what I can tell
you more than I've already told the
police and the reporters," Mark
said apologetically. "I guess it's
tough, losing your father . . ."
"Yeah," Fred agreed. "I wanted
to ask you something though. Dad
gave a lecture on his new theory a
few days ago, didn't he?"
Mark looked at him blankly.
Then, "Oh! I guess he did. As a
matter of fact I didn't pay much
attention to it." He grinned. Then
he remembered he should be sol-
emn and stopped grinning. "I — I
sort of slipped by it. He made the
mistake of telling us ahead of time
it was off the course and no ques-
tions on it would be in the finals, so
I more or less rested up during the
period for a tennis match after-
"Didn't you get any of what he
said?" Fred persisted.
"Oh, a little," Mark admitted.
"It was about some system of ar-
riving at the basic laws of nature
by pure logic, only what you ar-
rived at didn't agree with facts.
Some kind of intellectual curiosity."
He thought a minute. "Oh," he
said, "I see what you want. Didn't
he leave any notes on it? It would
be too bad if his theory was lost to
the world now that — " He left the
"Maybe you can remember
something," Fred coaxed. "Any-
thing. Did he talk about his theory
"Next day he gave a lecture on
the necessity of unbelief in modern
science. It was pretty good. He
overemphasized it, though. Some
of the kids thought he was making
a religion of unbelief."
"What did they say about his
theory?" Fred asked quickly.
"Oh, they were quite impressed.
Two of them live — lived here in
the rooming house. They were up
here that evening tossing it back
and forth. I was too tired from the
tag match. I let them talk."
"What did they think about it?"
Mark frowned in an effort to re-
call. "It had to do with this uni-
verse being basically illogical, or at
least seeming to be, because it
didn't agree with your father's
theory. They started building up
fantasies on it. One I remember
was a good one."
"What was that?"
"I think it was Jimmy. He said
it would be funny if we were here
because we believed this universe
was the only real one. Something
about inherited memory. Our com-
ing from a long line of people who
believed this was the only place,
because all our ancestors who
didn't believe it shot off into some
other universe and had their chil-
dren there. Utterly crazy. You
"Yeah, I know," Fred agreed.
"You going to be around in case I
want to see you again?"
"God! I hope so!" Mark said.
"It makes me nervous."
"You're safe enough," Fred
said. "Well — thanks. I'll be seeing
HE SMOOTHED out the crum-
pled sheet of paper and glanced
"What do you hope to find,
Fred," his mother asked.
"I don't know," he said. "Any-
thing, I — maybe this is something.
Together they read, "Either: the
universe is not constructed accord-
ing to logical necessity, Or: the ob-
servable universe is not the uni-
verse." There were doodlings along
the right margin that meant noth-
"What does it mean?" Mrs.
"Probably just something con-
nected with his classes," Fred
shrugged. He went on searching
the waste basket, giving his mother
no hint that he had already found
what he was searching for.
From the position of the paper
in the waste basket he felt reason-
ably sure it had been recently writ-
ten. It was probably a voicing of
thoughts gained from the disap-
pearance of Horace and John, be-
cause up to that time his father
had assumed his theory was just
an intellectual curiosity.
His father couldn't have asked
himself if the observable universe
might not be the universe unless
something had happened to raise a
doubt, or suggest an alternative as
Mrs. Grant's interest lessened.
She wandered about the room, per-
haps reliving memories. It gave
Fred a chance to put the piece of
paper in his pocket so that when he
put everything back in the waste
basket his mother would dismiss the
There was, of course, the file
with the entire theory in it. He
knew the theory by heart, however,
and had no need of that file.
"I think I'll go out for a while,
Mom," he said.
"All right, Fred," she said dis-
Outside he climbed behind the
wheel of his hot rod and sat there,
making no motion to start the mo-
tor. He was thinking.
Mark Smythe had said that he
overheard two of his fellow class-
men discussing the theory, one of
them remarking that, "It would be
funny if we were here just because
we were descended from a long
line of people who believed this
was the only place."
Could that be the key?
Take gravitation, for instance. If
it were something that some vital
part of you had to believe, and that
vital part didn't believe, would the
YE OF LITTLE FAITH
entire person go flying off into
What about inanimate matter?
Did it have to believe too? And
what about other forms of life?
Or was everything except human
beings just part of the props?
He shook his head. That didn't
seem like quite the right track. He
The human mind builds up a
picture of the outside universe
through its senses. Sometimes its
ideas are wrong. Right or wrong,
inside everyone's mind is a universe,
derived from the outside universe.
What if the outside universe were
derived from something? Derived
from what? The real, logically
necessary universe? That could be.
At least it seemed to have some
value as a starting point.
He tried to reason from that
point. Frustration grew in him. He
wished he were older, had his uni-
versity education behind him.
There were so many things he
couldn't begin to deal with.
Maybe he could take the entire
problem to some of his father's
friends. He shook his head over
this thought. From all that had
gone on it was too likely that the
minute one of them discovered
something that would be of help
he would disappear before he could
That raised another point. Why
didn't he himself vanish? What
was there different about him?
A lot. His father had instilled in
him a lot of the things he himself
could only aspire to. Unbelief was
the major thing. Or perhaps it was
the other major thing, remem-
His father's voice came into con-
sciousness, saying something he had
said so many times it was grooved
deeply in memory, even to the in-
flections of voice. "All psychoses
and mental troubles are caused by
walled-off unpleasant memories.
The child who trains himself to re'
call all unpleasant things and de-
liberately associate them with the
feeling that they are valuable les-
sons, but harmless, will grow up in
He smiled. He could let flow
through consciousness, dozens of
incidents he had taken up with his
He was definitely different than
others around him. So different he
had systematically disguised it by
a front of accepted behavior — sys-
tematically and consciously, under
his father's guidance.
There was a chance those differ-
ences made him safe. There was a
chance those differences would
make it possible for him to find out
what caused the others to vanish,
without he himself vanishing.
The other train of thought in-
serted itself into consciousness
again. Was belief the key to the dis-
MARK SMYTHE hadn't paid
attention when the theory was
being explained. The others had
undoubtedly lapped it up. The pe-
culiar thing about the theory was
that it was so logical and so inevi-
table that the mind tended to ac-
cept it, believe it to be true in spite
of the evidence of the senses.
Let us suppose, Fred mused, that
deep within the mind there is some
matrix of thought that ties the hu-
man to this universe. A matrix that
could conceivably be altered, and
when altered would automatically
shift the person to another universe
that the altered matrix fitted.
The subconscious usually took
time to absorb and react. That was
another thing his father had taught
him to observe. Learn something,
and it takes from days to months
for it to become lodged in the sub-
conscious and to rise into operation
naturally from there.
John Henderson had taken six
weeks to vanish after having
learned the theory. It had taken
Horace Smith three and a half
days, but he had had the added fac-
tor of Dr. Henderson's disappear-
ance to trigger reactions. The theo-
retical physics class had taken
three days exactly, and its vanish-
ing had been a sort of group action
or chain reaction, with intensely
emotional reaction after the first
student had vanished before the
eyes of the others.
His own father, originator of the
theory, had probably fallen into the
trap of starting to believe after
Horace had vanished, so it became
a greater probability that the dis-
appearance was related to knowl-
edge of the theory. Seeing the stu-
dents vanish had probably set up
an emotional state where complete
belief was precipitated.
In the whole series the only im-
probable part was that so many
students would react in the same
short time. That was partly nulli-
fied by the fact that it was a special
class, and only high I.Q. students
with excellent records were ac-
cepted. They would tend to be
somewhat identical in reaction
He straightened up and stared
through the windshield at the dark
street. So there it was, the probable
mechanism of vanishment. A sys-
tem was fed into the conscious
mind. The conscious mind accept-
ed it. In due time that system was
transferred down into the matrix
that held the person in this reality
or universe. Once there, it made
the whole person transfer to a sys-
tem where the altered matrix fitted.
It might not be the system pictured
in his father's theory. It might be a
Where and when probably had
no meaning in relation to the two
systems. That was why, when the
shift came, the person vanished in-
stantly without any strange mani-
festations of any kind.
Was it reversible? If so, then
some of those who had vanished
would reappear eventually.
A sudden, startling thought
made Fred sit up straight, his eyes
shining with excitement. So far he
had been safe mainly because he
habitually didn't attach belief to
anything. His other facet of dif-
ference might be the means of his
testing this without real danger of
Could he dredge up from the
deepest layers of unconscious
thought, the threads leading direct-
ly to the matrix that held him in
his surroundings and learn con-
sciously what it was?
A thought. He reflected on it,
then decided before he made any
decisions he would explore the
other avenue, the one the police
had naturally thought of.
YE OF LITTLE FAITH
Was there some person or per-
sons unknown in back of the dis-
appearances? Some non-human,
perhaps? It could fit into the same
theory of disappearance. Another
universe, beings in that universe.
Beings who perhaps didn't want
knowledge of their universe to be-
come known on this side of the veil.
If so, why hadn't they snatched
him too? Maybe they didn't know
he knew about the theory. He'd
never talked about it to anyone.
But his father had drilled it into
him as a supreme example of the
reasons why belief in anything was
He shook his head. It didn't seem
likely that the disappearances had
been engineered by anyone. They
smacked too much of an inner pat-
tern, an inner mechanism.
So he came back to the other
theory. What could he try to ac-
complish by exploring into his
deepest substratum of thought?
The ideal he could aim for would
be conscious transfer into the other
system with the assurance before-
hand that he could transfer back
again. If he could do that, and if
he could find those who had van-
ished, maybe he could teach them
how to return.
It was something that might take
a long time, he realized. His first
objective was to penetrate deeper
into his mind than anyone had ever
consciously gone before. That alone
could take a lifetime. Or it might
be accomplished overnight.
How would he begin? Where
would be begin? he shrugged. It
didn't matter. He would have to
systematically extend his ability to
be aware in every direction, physi-
cal and temporal, until he could
be conscious of his individual blood
cells if it were possible, and com-
pletely and vividly conscious, at
will of every second of his past life.
If that didn't lead him to his ob-
jective, it might at least point the
way and increase his ability to
reach his goal.
That evening, Fred arrived home
to find a stranger seated in the li-
brary. There was the usual moment
of clumsiness such encounters gen-
erate, but Fred's mother returned
with a tea tray before self -introduc-
tions became necessary. She said,
"Mr. Gaard, this is my son, Fred."
The man smiled easily as Mrs.
Grant continued, speaking now to
Fred. "This is Curt Gaard, Fred.
I called on him today and what do
you think I discovered. "He was a
friend — a very old friend — of your
father." Mrs. Grant stopped, a cer-
tain inward uncertainty snowing
Fred stood mute, giving voice to
none of the questions which sprang
up in his mind. Curt Gaard, com-
pletely at ease, took up the lead.
Even as a feeling of familiarity
sprang into Fred's mind, Gaard
said, "I knew your father — met
him several times — but we weren't
as close as your mother's words
Then Fred knew. He spoke sud-
denly. "You're a psychiatrist." The
pieces fell into place. Fred's father
had mentioned this man several
times, and the boy knew he was not
there by chance — that his mother
had contacted the psychiatrist —
this particular one because she too
had remembered the acquaintance-
ship. For a moment, Fred was an-
noyed with his mother. Why on
earth had she brought a psychia-
trist into this? Then he softened as
he realized she felt it to be to her
son's best interests.
"Yes, I'm a psychiatrist," Gaard
said. Then, as though he could
read Fred's mind: "Your mother
did send for me, but so far as Pfn
concerned, it's nrore than just a
professional visit. I knew your
father and liked him. I'd like to be
"You plan to psychoanalyze
"Don't be so grim about it," Curt
Gaard smiled. "Just let's make this
a social visit. There will be plenty
of time for other things later. Per-
haps you can drop in at my office."
"Perhaps," Fred said, almost ab-
sently. A short time later he ex-
cused himself and went to his room.
RS. GRANT?" Mr. Browne
said, smiling at the woman be-
Browne the publisher."
"Browne?" she said. "Oh yes. My
hus — husband has mentioned you."
"Favorably, I hope?" Browne
was wondering if Dr. Grant had
told her of his decision not to let the
book be published.
"Oh yes, very favorably." She
frowned. "Which reminds me. He
received a check from you for the
advance royalties. I'm sure he
didn't cash it because there was no
deposit at the bank that large. I
can't find the check anywhere. He
must have had it with him when — "
She had opened the screen door.
Browne went in and followed her
into the study. He looked around at
the walls of books, almost feeling
the presence of the man whose re-
treat this had been.
"That's what I've come here to
see you about," Browne said. "You
see, he called on me at my office the
morning of the day he vanished."
"Yes. I'm going to be quite frank
with you. He returned the check to .
"Why? He said nothing to me
"I rather imagine he didn't have
time. I've waited, knowing you
wouldn't care to discuss business so
soon after—" He waited for her re-
action. When she said nothing he
continued. "He returned the check
and said he didn't want the book
published after all. I couldn't quite
understand his reasons, but they are
no longer valid as I see it."
"What were his reasons? This
surprises me very much. Just the
day before that he mentioned his
book and expressed pleasure that it
was being published."
"The reasons he gave were that
the book contained some things that
were — to use his own words — a
trifle crackpottish. He thought they
might reflect on him in some way."
"Oh my goodness. He was always
doing something like that, Mr.
Browne. He leaned over backwards.
Scientific integrity was a fetish with
"I haven't read the book," Mr.
Browne said. "The reader reported
it was far better than Dr. Grant's
first one. That was good enough for
me. The reader is no longer with
us." He frowned in irritation at the
memory. "Left us without giving
notice. But he was a good man. Ex-
YE OF LITTLE FAITH
cellent judgment. I'd like to go
ahead with the book unless you ob-
"I don't know," Mrs. Grant
hesitated. "If he didn't want it pub-
"But he's gone now," Browne re-
"I know, but—" She wept softly
into a crumpled kerchief.
The publisher remained silent.
After a moment she pulled herself
together. "He was always so absent-
minded. I was sure he had mislaid
the check. Used it to scribble some
problem on. He did that once
several years ago."
Browne reached into his breast-
pocket and brought out a long en-
velope and extended it toward her.
"I had another check made out
for advance royalties," he said, "if
you decide to let me go ahead with
"I don't think I should, Mr.
Browne." She withdrew the check
from the envelope and looked at it,
her eyebrows lifting at the size of
"It's substantially more than the
original check," Browne said. "I
thought perhaps you might be in
need of money, and I feel confident
the book will sell exceptionally
"It is a lot of money," Mrs. Grant
said. "But I'm so confused. I wish I
knew what to do."
Browne leaned forward. "Your
husband was a great man. I feel it
as an obligation on my part to make
public his last work."
Mrs. Grant nodded slowly. "You
may be right. I hadn't thought of it
"And you can undoubtedly use
the money," Browne added.
"There'll be more. How much more
depends on how the book sells. It
may be a steady income for a few
"All right," Mrs. Grant said,
making up her mind. "I'll let you
"Fine!" Mr. Browne said heart-
ily. "I felt you would. And any time
you need money just call me."
FRED'S BIRTHDAY came in
February. He was seventeen
now, and the knowledge filled him
with dismay. It had been months
since his father had vanished.
Or had his father vanished?
Maybe his memory of those people
vanishing was as wrong as his
memory of which way his door
opened! To check it he spent an
afternoon in a newspaper office
searching back papers until he
found the accounts. He read them
all carefully. They were as he re-
And in him, slowly, grew the
realization that he was going to use
someone. He was going to choose
someone and try to make that per-
son disappear. More, he knew that
that person was going to be Curt
Gaard. He decided against calling
and making an appointment. He
would go to the man's office and
put over the sixteen-year-old act.
With a great deal of shyness he
confided to the receptionist that
Curt was a very special friend of
his mother's. She talked into the
inter-office phone, did a lot of lis-
tening and yessing. Finally she told
Fred that Dr. Gaard wanted him to
wait a few moments. Then she
dialed an outside number. Fred lis-
tened to the clicks and knew it was
his home phone. The psychiatrist
was going to talk to his mother. He
hadn't wanted that, but it wouldn't
The wait lasted almost half an
hour. Then, with heart pounding,
Fred was walking toward the dark
walnut door to the inner office.
Inside, he caught a comprehensive
glimpse of the rumored couch, lux-
urious desk and chairs, thick expen-
sive rug, and an assortment of floor-
lamps and oil paintings. Then the
psychiatrist was upon him, heartily
There were time-marking con-
versational exchanges about school,
the hot rod, and life in general.
There was the pause while each
sized the other up.
Then, "I'm glad you dropped in,
Fred," Dr. Gaard smiled casually.
"I'm all mixed up," Fred said. "I
know something's wrong with me. I
wanted someone to talk to, now
that Dad is gone. I thought of you.
I didn't want to bother Mom. Do
you really straighten out crazy peo-
"Not exactly," Curt chuckled.
"A psychologist finds most of his
patients among people who are just
upset about things. They aren't in-
sane. They just need someone who
has experience to help them get
their thoughts straightened out."
"Maybe that's all I need," Fred
naid. "1 don't think I'm crazy."
"( )f course you aren't. You're a
very he.ilthy-tninded young man."
"I ilun't want Mom to know
alinut this . . ."
i urt frowned, jotted something
tiov>u on a notepad. It was, Fred
guessed, a notation to call his
mother and warn her to keep quiet.
"Don't worry about your mother.
Now tell me, just what seems to be
the trouble?" Curt smiled encour-
"Are you married?" Fred asked
with teen-age frankness.
"No," Curt smiled.
"Would you marry my mother?"
Fred asked bluntly. "I would like
for you to be my father."
Curt Gaard stared at him a mo-
ment. "I really believe you mean
that," he said slowly. "You know,
don't you, that it will be two years
before she can be free to marry?
Your father can't be declared legal-
ly, ah, departed, for two years."
"No. I didn't know," Fred said,
real dismay on his face. He hadn't
known about that. He thought
rapidly. "Then can I come live
with you? Just until Mom can
marry you?" Inwardly he was en-
joying this. And he hoped he wasn't
"We can't do that," Curt said.
"I'll tell you what we can do,
though. I'll invite myself out to din-
ner tomorrow evening. Don't say
anything. I'll surprise your mother.
And we'll see a lot of each other
from now on. Okay?"
Fred nodded. It was definitely
okay. He wanted to be present
when Curt Gaard disappeared into
thin air, and this way he had a
HE LEFT Curt's office highly ex-
hilarated, almost drunk with the
emotion of things working right. It
lasted until the following evening
when the doctor showed up and he
YE OF LITTLE FAITH
and Fred's mother put on their
little act. Then his emotions swung
the other way. He experienced a
reluctance to go through with his
plans. There was too much that was
likeable about the man. And his
mother did like him.
"Poor Dad," Fred thought.
After dinner the next evening,
Curt kept the conversation on
Fred's father. It was, Fred sensed,
the right time to bring up the
theory. Curt would do anything to
please him, to draw him out.
But he hesitated. Stretching
elaborately, he said, "I'm sleepy.
Why don't you and Mom play
Canasta or something?"
"I'm going to be much too busy,"
his mother said. "I have to finish
proofreading your father's book for
the publisher. Mr. Browne is finally
going to print it, and wants it back
"When did that happen?" Fred
demanded. "Can I read it?"
"You can read it when it comes
out. Now you and Curt go into the
study and leave me alone." She
herded them out of the room.
This interlude had served to
strengthen Fred's resolve. Alone
with the psychiatrist, he let slip
that he knew of a wonderful theory
his father had originated, then tried
to cover up.
Curt used flattery. Fred took his
cue and slyly bragged that it was a
theory few college professors could
understand even, but he understood
More coaxing and he was ready
to start in. But his conscience got
the better of him. He balked, and
even as he tried to squirm out of it
he realized that it was too late. Dr.
Gaard would never rest until the
theory had been told.
"I'll tell you the next time you
come," he suggested as a last re-
"Tonight," Curt said. "Even if it
takes all night. You can miss school
tomorrow." He winked. "I can
okay it with the teacher."
"All right," Fred said in sudden
crystalization of decision. "But only
if you agree to master every step of
it, stopping me until you have."
Curt agreed. He started in.
After half an hour it settled into
serious listening on Curt's part, and
pertinent questions that made Fred
realize he was dealing with a mind
of more than average keenness.
Fred's mother wandered in oc-
casionally, and out again, without
being noticed by either of them.
An hour passed. Two. The final
steps were drawing nearer. At times
Curt was even anticipating some of
them. It was midnight when it was
finished. The mind of Curt Gaard
held the entire pattern.
Fred couldn't take his eyes off
the man's face. The face that was
mirroring the rapid flow of thoughts
as it reviewed and attacked every
brick in the structure, finding it
solid, and solidly cemented to its
Then he saw a change come over
the man's face. He had accepted
the theory. Now he was trying to
integrate it into the problem of
Fred Grant. He hadn't yet seen the
connection between the theory and
the mysterious disappearances.
And perhaps he wouldn't. If he
did he might go the final step and
realize what was going to happen to
him. Fred hoped that wouldn't
happen. He didn't want his victim
to be conscious of being a victim.
"You are intelligent, Fred," Curt
probed, "to be able to master such
an advanced theory." He glanced
at his watch. "It's getting pretty
late. I'll tell you what. After school
tomorrow drop down to my office.
We'll come out for dinner here to-
"Say! That'd be swell!" Fred
enthused. "I'll get right to bed so I
can get enough sleep." He leaped
up and called, "Mom! I'm going to
bed now." He winked broadly at
Curt to let him know he was getting
out of his way so they could be
alone together a few minutes.
And that was that. The dye was
cast, and all that remained was to
try and use it to make progress,
rather than letting it be just another
disappearance that pointed to
There was no way of telling how
fast it would work. The next after-
noon and evening there was little to
provide an indication, other than
an occasional look that came over.
Curt for moments at a time.
A date was made for Saturday.
It was to be a picnic in the country.
That meant skipping Friday. Fred
violently objected, but Curt and his
mother overrode his objections. So
in the end it had to be Saturday,
unless Curt disappeared before
UT TEN minutes before school
wau out Friday a note was
brought into the classroom from the
principle's office. Curt had called
to ask Fred to come to his office
directly from school.
Torn between excited anticipa-
tion that the psychiatrist had made
an important discovery, and fear
that the man would have vanished
before he could get to him, Fred
ran from the school building and
caught the bus.
At Curt's office the receptionist
smiled and told him to go right in.
His sigh of relief was genuine. Curt
was sitting at his desk.
"Come in, son," he said.
There were the amenities. "How
did school go today?" "Okay."
"Anything happen?" Fred waited
impatiently. Then: "I've been
thinking a lot about your father's
theory, Fred, and I would like to
ask a few questions — if it won't
"Of course not!" Fred said.
"Okay, here's a question," Curt
said. "Or rather, a statement You
can answer yes or no. You believe
the theory is at the root of the dis-
appearances, that in some unknown
fashion knowing the theory will
cause a person to vanish."
So there it was. Fred debated
rapidly in his mind. It might be
better to admit it.
"Yes," he said.
"Hmm. Then let me ask you
this. How do you account for the
fact that you know it, and haven't
Fred decided to be completely
truthful and see what happened.
"It's because I don't let belief form
a part of my thinking, sir. Dad in-
stilled that in me. With those that
disappeared, logic was their
groundwork of belief."
"But you believe knowing the
theory caused them to vanish?"
YE OF LITTLE FAITH
Fred smiled. "I see what you
mean. No, I don't. It's just that no
other alternative seems probable,
so . . .
"So you work with the one that
does," Curt said, nodding. "All
right, let's work with it for the mo-
ment. You have probably done
some thinking on what mechanism
might be involved in the process of
vanishing. Would you care to tell
me about it?"
"There's no reason why not, sir.
It takes time for conscious beliefs
to sink into the subconscious and
integrate there. The time varies
with the person and the emotions
"That makes sense," Curt said,
"I postulated that down under-
neath even the subconscious, at the
very roots of being, is what I named
the basic thought matrix. In order
for us to be here in this existence at
all it must have a certain form.
Change that form and, presto, the
person slips out of this existence,
perhaps into another."
"I see." Curt drummed his fin-
gers on the desk for a long minute.
"I see," he repeated. "Has it oc-
curred to you that you have already
rejected your theory? It's quite
obvious you have, you know."
"How is it obvious?" Fred asked,
wondering what Curt meant.
"Because you told me the theory.
You wouldn't have, of course, if
you believed it would cause me to
vanish like the others."
Fred opened and closed his
mouth several times, unable to cope
with this. It was unexpected.
"We've gotten to the root of your
trouble," Curt went on. "It was a
real trouble, to you. In a few
months you will look back on it
and marvel at it. Right now it
seems real. You feel that somewhere
your father still exists. You would
like to go to him, or perhaps bring
him back. Believe me, such mys-
terious vanishings aren't uncom-
mon. The history of the world is
full of such incidents. In some cases
whole groups have vanished. Au-
thenticated cases. In southeast Asia
the people of an entire city of over
a million inhabitants vanished over-
night. In the last century an entire
trainload of people, including the
train, vanished while going from
one city to another a few miles
away. And there have been van-
ishments with reappearances, too.
In England there was an old wom-
an who suddenly vanished before
the eyes of her family. At the same
instant she reappeared in a room
in London, miles away, in front of
other people. Did she know your
father's theory? Did the train that
vanished know that theory?" Curt
was smiling. "No. You see, it's
something unrelated to your fa-
Fred was nodding. "You may be
right," he said. "I didn't know
"You may go now, son," Curt
said. "I'll be out around eleven
o'clock in the morning."
Fred rose quickly. "Okay, Curt,"
he said. "I'll see you." He hurried
out. It was too much of an effort
to hide the sudden trembling. He
hadn't known about other cases of
vanishing. They provided data to
expand the whole thing, while not
in the slightest detracting from the
validity of anything else.
And if the talk had been pro-
!"n<;c(l much more Curt would have
inevitably tumbled to his motive
for telling him the theory.
PROMPTLY AT eleven Curt ar-
rived. Fred's mother had already
prepared the large basket of food.
There were ten minutes of last-
minute bustle, then they were off,
with Curt skillfully tooling his
Cadillac in and out of traffic until
they were on the open highway.
"I know just the place," he told
them. "Woods, meadow, brook.
Even a couple of cows." And he
did. When they arrived shortly be-
fore twelve-thirty it was all that.
Fred relaxed as the car came to
a stop. Every second of the trip he
had been ready to seize the wheel
and keep the car from crashing if
"Still a little nervous?" Curt
asked him as they got out.
"No. No, of course not!" Fred
Curt didn't pursue the subject.
Instead, he became something ut-
terly different than he had been
Ucfore, a carefree thoroughly like-
.il »le man, full of humor.
Fred began to regret that he had
i bourn him as his victim. He began
u> hope that the process might not
In- automatic, that Curt wouldn't
vanish. But he stayed close to him
mkI listened to his every word and
it, hed his face as much as he
i'i| without staring, so that if the
•■in i ut rami" he could get what-
ci ilierr was to get of value from
I'm tin first time in years his
iiiiiihci In )'.m to be carefree. She
even joked back at Curt occa-
sionally, something she had never
done with Martin in Fred's
memory. Her joking was clumsy
and uncertain. Fred laughed up-
roariously to encourage her and to
hide his uncomfortable feeling.
"Oh, I haven't felt so good in
ages," she said when they were
seated around the tablecloth spread
with sandwiches and salads and
cakes. "It's wonderful getting out
like this. We'll have to do it often."
"We will," Curt said. "At least
once a week."
Fred's mother picked up a sand-
wich. She started to raise it to her
mouth. She was smiling at Curt and
about to say something to him. Both
Curt and Fred were watching her.
Abruptly she wasn't there. The
sandwich seemed to remain sta-
tionary for a long second. Then it
dropped to the tablecloth.
Curt was holding a paper cup
filled with hot coffee. His hand con-
stricted. The cup collapsed, spilling
steaming coffee over his legs.
Fred stared at the space his
mother had just occupied. Abruptly
he squawked, "No!" He turned ac-
cusing eyes on Curt. "You told
Something seemed to go out of
the man. He seemed to become
visibly smaller. "Yes," he whis-
pered, "I told her."
Fred was crying. "But you
shouldn't have," he sobbed. "I told
you because I wanted you to vanish.
I didn't want her to, and now she
has. And nothing happened that I
Curt blinked at him, absorbing
this new bit of information. "You
wanted me to vanish?" he echoed.
YE OF LITTLE FAITH
"Yes, I can see that now. I didn't
know. It seemed too absurd. I
thought you were just imagining
things. Yes, I went out while you
were at school and spent the whole
morning teaching her every step. It
was fairly easy. We had planned on
coaxing you to explain it to her.
Knowing it ahead of time she could
pretend to grasp it that much more
easily. We were planning on coax-
ing you into a more social relation-
ship. Actually, she had already read
the theory in your father's book she
was reading for the publisher." A
glassy look came into his eyes. "The
book. If the theory is at the root of
the disappearances the book
shouldn't be published. Yes, by
God. That's what your father was
driving at. Your mother told me the
publisher had told her your father
tried to get him not to publish it."
"The book has the theory in it?"
Fred said. "It mustn't get pub-
lished. Why — thousands of people
would read it and vanish. We've got
to stop them!"
Curt was shaking his head in
bewilderment. "But we can't be
sure. It must be something else,
though what I don't know."
"No," Fred said bitterly.
There was a long silence. Curt
broke it by saying, "What did you
expect to accomplish by my van-
Fred told him of Horace's shout-
ing to his wife, "Ethel! I've got it!",
and the others seeming to have a
flash of divination or insight just
before they vanished.
"I wanted," he explained dully,
"to be with you when it happened,
in the hopes I could get something
more than I have to go on. In that
way I might be able to find out
something so I could bring my fa-
ther back. And Mom." He began
"I see," Curt said, calm and a
little subdued. "It's possible that
may come. After what I've seen
happen I can admit it as a pos-
"Then you will make every effort
to tell me?" Fred asked.
Curt smiled wryly. "You make it
sound inevitable. But — yes, I will."
Fred's eyes were large and round.
"I've got to find the mechanism.
I've got to go where they've van-
ished to and show them how to get
back!" He turned his eyes on Curt.
"Don't you hate me?" he pleaded.
"I'm just the same as a murderer!"
"No, my son," Curt said gently.
"Wherever your father is, your
mother is with him now. If — " A
startled expression appeared on his
face. "So that's it," he almost whis-
"What's it?" Fred asked. "Tell
me. Please tell me. I've got to know,
you know. You promised!"
Curt frowned in a visible effort
to jerk himself back. His eyes, hold-
ing a faraway look, rested on Fred's
face, looked at it, and through it.
"You promised!" Fred screamed.
Curt opened his mouth as though
to speak. His lips smiled.
And — he was no longer there.
Fred was alone, with the picnic
lunch on the white square of table-
cloth, with the gleaming Cadillac a
few yards away, with the two white
and black spotted cows grazing a
short distance away, with the noisy
little brook nearby.
Alone. . .
HE BECAME aware of a police
siren growing louder. He became
aware he was behind a wheel, that
there were cars in front of him
veering wildly out of his way. The
speedometer needle pointed at
How had he arrived here? He
took his foot off the gas. He was
driving a Cadillac. Curt's. But Curt
was gone. That was it! He had
started out to look for the police.
He pulled over to the side of the
road as the police car came scream-
ing up. Shakily he told them about
the disappearances. Any doubts
they might have had were held in
reserve by the obvious sincerity of
He led them back to the picnic
grove. The tablecloth with the food
on it was still there, untouched.
One of the cows was grazing be-
They listened while he told again
of his mother and Curt vanishing
before his eyes. Their reserved
skepticism was thrust out of their
minds when he identified himself
as the son of Dr. Martin Grant, who
They used their car radio. In a
surprisingly short time several other
cars were coming through the gate
into the pasture.
Fred, his mind paralyzed with
grief, stood forlornly near the
Cadillac. He answered the ques-
tions they put to him. He wasn't
aware of the news cameras that
took shots of him which were to ap-
pear in the evening papers all over
Eventually it was over. The
police gathered up the picnic lunch,
his mother's purse, and everything
else. A gray-haired man in a dark
brown suit who introduced himself
as Captain Waters told him to get
into the Cadillac. "I'll drive,"
Entirely submissive, Fred obeyed.
On the way into town Captain
Waters said he would take Fred
home if he wanted to go there, but
it would be really better if he ac-
cepted an invitation to stay at the
Waters home for a few days until
things were straightened out.
"All right," Fred said. _
Eternities later he was in a house
with comfortable furnishings. A
motherly old lady was hovering
around him. Captain Waters was
on the phone caUing someone.
There was a steaming dinner on
blue design Swedish dishes. Under
coaxing Fred nibbled. Door chimes
sounded. Captain Waters pushed
back his chair and went away. He
came back with another gray-haired
man who pressed a thumb against
Fred's cheek, listened to words Cap-
tain Waters was saying, then or-
dered Fred to roll up his sleeve.
He swabbed a spot with alcohol
and inserted a hypo needle. Fred
watched with listless eyes.
"Get him undressed and to bed,"
the doctor said. "Poor kid. Suffer-
ing from shock. Have to watch him
the next few days . . ."
Shock . . . Fred tried to concen-
trate on the meaning of the word.
The bed was an enormous ex-
panse of fresh smelling sheets and
luxurious blankets. The pillows
were mountainous . . . and so
The sun was streaming in
through open French doors, filtered
through bronze screen doors. An
YE OF LITTLE FAITH
electric clock on the dresser pointed
He lay there without moving, re-
membering everything that had
happened the day before. And he
had a feeling that, in his sleep, he
had been doing a lot of thinking.
Or was it dreaming?
"Poor boy," a melodious voice
He opened his eyes. It was the
motherly woman, with a tray of
toast and eggs and steaming coffee.
The sight of it made him aware
that there was a huge emptiness in
He ate, gratefully. Mrs. Waters
busied herself about the room,
humming soft tunes, smiling at him
whenever he looked at her. When
he had finished, she took the tray.
"You just relax and sleep some
more," she said. "The bathroom is
through that door over there. If
you want me for anything just call.
I'll hear you. And if you want to
get up and wander about the house
just do so." She departed, leaving
the door part way open in invita-
Fred sighed and closed his eyes.
In that moment of relaxation the
thinking he had done during the
night rose into consciousness.
For he knew now what he had
to do. There was no other avenue
of exploration. It might not even
be possible. But if it was possible he
was going to do it.
He was going to vanish.
THERE ALONE lay the solution.
He should have realized it. Once
he vanished as had the others, he
would have experience with the
mystery. Personal experience. He
would have all the data he re-
quired, instead of just data from
the world he was in. If he had the
ability to solve the problem of re-
appearance he would then be able
to return, and go back again and
show the others how to return.
The key to vanishing was belief,
that quality of thought which his
father had systematically weeded
from his mind since earliest infancy.
It might take time to overcome
that, but it should be possible.
Already he believed some things.
Or did he? Was it merely a realiza-
tion that those things had a prob-
ability that approached certainty?
His patterns of thinking were too
ingrained. His mind was too well
integrated. If he became irritated
the irritation immediately brought
up the memories of the factors that
made him react that way. If he be-
came happy he consciously knew
the pattern, stretching back to early
infancy. It was ingrained within
He began to realize with a sink-
ing sensation that he didn't actually
know what belief was. If, in some
way, it was present anywhere in his
makeup, he didn't know how to
His mental pattern was one of
unbelief. Not disbelief, the believing
that something isn't true; but un-
belief, the using of something in the
pragmatic sense for its workability.
He let his thoughts wander in the
past. He could remember vaguely
a moment when he had felt unrea-
soning terror, a sense of being lost.
He could remember his father say-
ing many times, "Belief is the lazy
assuming that something is true. It
is or it isn't, and the fundamental
postulate of inductive logic tells us
that its truth or lack of it is forever
beyond our reach. So why reach for
it? Use a theory if it works for you.
Discard it if it doesn't. Don't use it
even to the point of absurdity while
clinging to a belief that it's true.
It was that way with facts, too.
Something that happened or
seemed to happen, needed no tag of
belief attached to it. If you saw it
happen it didn't necessarily happen.
There was such a thing as illusion.
Accept it as though it had hap-
pened — until events pointed other-
His playmates and teachers had
been frankly skeptical of this point
of view, doubting he could actually
have attained it. They were quick
to agree it was desirable. They just
thought no one could use a thing
without attaching a degree of belief
or unbelief to it.
Now, what should he believe? As
in the attempts to reach the basic
matrix by conscious extension, he
had to start somewhere.
It was midafternoon when Cap-
tain Waters entered the bedroom
with a cheery, "Hello!"
"Hi," Fred said. He had been
lying in bed with his eyes closed.
"Did I wake you?" Waters said.
"Sorry." He grinned. "You can go
back to sleep again. I'll drop in
Captain Waters ducked out. He
started to close the door, then left
it open. A few minutes later the
rumble of his voice came from an-
other part of the house. Fred tried
to catch what he was saying, but
Half an hour later he heard the
front door chimes. The rumble of
deep voices came again. The doc-
tor appeared in the doorway.
"Well, well," he said, smiling. "I
hear you had a very restful night.
How do you feel today? Better?"
He was advancing toward the bed
as he talked. Setting his black bag
down, he reached out and took
Fred's pulse. "A little rapid," he
said, putting his watch away.
Reaching inside his coat, he took
out a thermometer. He put it under
Fred's tongue. "Had anything to
eat or drink in the past fifteen min-
utes?" he asked. Fred shook his
The doctor stood quietly. After
a while he lifted the thermometer,
glanced at it, and put it away.
"Looks like you're going to be
fit as a fiddle," he said. "I'll be
back in a few minutes. Mrs. Waters
told me on the way in she was pour-
ing me a cup of coffee."
Fred remained motionless until
the doctor had left the room. Then
he slipped out of bed and went to
the door. On the other side of it was
a living room. A swinging door of
the type that opens into kitchens
was just swinging closed. No one
was in sight. Quickly Fred stole
across to the door. He put his ear
close to it and listened.
"Dr. Harvey speaking," he heard
the doctor say. "Connect me with
"Is he going to be all right?" Mrs.
Waters' anxious voice sounded.
"I think so," the doctor said
calmly. "Hello? Thirteen? Who's
speaking? Oh, hello, Giles. Dr.
Harvey. Do you have a vacancy?
YE OF LITTLE FAITH
"Oh dear," Mrs. Waters said un-
"It will be for the best," Captain
Waters said. "They'll know how to
take care of him."
Fred waited for no more. He
went back to the bedroom. His
clothes were in the closet. In sec-
onds he had them on. He could tie
his shoes and button up later.
He unfastened one of the screen
doors and stepped out onto a flag-
stone path that wound around
the corner of the house toward the
front. There were people on the
sidewalk, but none very near. It
would be hours before dark, and
there was no place to hide.
There were two cars parked at
the curb. One was a police car, the
other a black Chrysler sedan, prob-
ably the doctor's car. The police
car had the key in the ignition. Fred
didn't hesitate. He jerked open the
door and slid behind the wheel.
Mrs. Waters' anxious voice
sounded, calling, "Fred! Where are
you?" Then the starter was whir-
ring. The motor caught.
As he shot away from the curb,
Fred caught a glimpse in the rear
view mirror of Captain Waters
running down the walk from the
As he took the first comer, touch-
ing the siren button briefly, he won-
dered why he had run. It had been
an impulse. Maybe it was the wrong
one. Maybe he could accomplish
what he had to do better in some
kind of institution. Maybe not.
He compressed his lips grimly.
The die was cast now. He would
abandon the police car someplace,
then slip quietly out of town on
foot. He would be caught if he
tried to go home. He had no money
except a few dollars in change.
Maybe this was all part of the
new pattern that seemed to possess
him. He kept the siren going, not
trusting his ability to avoid traffic.
Its mad scream blended into his
thoughts. He was the hunted. He
was sane, but the truth would brand
him as insane. Or was he sane? Had
anyone vanished? Was his father at
home, sitting in his chair in his
study, expounding his theories to
his colleagues? Was his mother at
home, in the kitchen, preparing
His lip trembled. Homesickness
welled up in him.
He was near a bus line that went
to the outskirts of the city. He shut
off the siren and slowed down.
After a few blocks and two turns
he felt safe in ditching the car. He
pulled quietly to the curb. He tied
his shoelaces, buttoned his shirt,
combed his hair. Then he got out.
No one paid any attention to him.
He walked to the corner. Two
minutes later the bus stopped.
THE NIGHT sky was clear. The
moon was a lesser sun whose light
made things visible and somehow
unreal and mysterious. In the ditch
to the right of the road two bright
points of light blinked on, held for
a moment, and vanished. A cat.
A silent dog appeared out of the
gloom, wagged its tail and half of
its body in friendliness. "Nice dog-
gy," Fred said nervously. It sniffed
his trouser leg, lost interest, and
moved off into the darkness.
It was after midnight. How long
after, he didn't know. Once a police
car had come speeding by, its red
lights ogling insanely, its spotlight
weaving into the bushes at the side
of the road. He had lain very still
in the ditch until it passed. It hadn't
slowed down. Later it had come
back and he had again pressed his
body into the earth beside the road.
Off to the right now he saw the
silhouette of the giant tree that had
been the landmark of the picnic
spot. A few minutes later he could
see the gate that led to the meadow.
He squeezed through it and
picked out the path worn by the
cars the day before. Some winged
creature dipped down, shied away
from him, and swept off into the
A soft gurgling sound became
audible. The brook. The spot where
his mother and Curt had vanished,
He reached it. He wasn't quite
sure until he studied the ground
and went back in memory to check
on little details. Then he was cer-
He had reached his goal.
He knew why he had come, of
course. Here he was closer to his
mother than anyplace else. Here, in
some unguessed way, he might get
What would he do when morning
came? He sat down and pulled his
knees up under his chin, wrapping
his arms around them. Morning
was far away. It might never come
— for him. If and when it did he
would cope with it. "Mom," he
whispered. "Mom . . ."
Crrroak! The sound of the frog
broke the silence. The croak of a
frog that was part of the universe —
the universe that was basically il-
logical. More . . ;
The universe was insane. Police
looking for you. Doctors with their
standards of sanity and insanity.
Right now they were looking for
him to protect him from himself.
They didn't want to know why
things were done. To them even the
reason would be part of the in-
sanity. They dealt in tags. Words.
Their science was an illusion within
an illusion. Meaningless inside a
universe of meaninglessness.
Crrroak, the frog said cautiously.
And a night creature came down
on silent wings, to weave back into
That was the reason for prag-
matism. He could see it now. He
had always thought his father made
pragmatism his God because it was
the intellectual thing to do. But
now he could see the reason for it.
Reality was a jungle in which Rea-
son had to cope with Unreason,
and there was no criterion except
workability. Belief was an instinc-
tive way of thought. It was like the
appendix. Scientists claimed that
long ago man ate tree bark. And
the appendix had had a use. If so,
that use was gone, but the appendix
remained. Before surgery had be-
come a common thing, thousands of
people died from appendicitis. The
organ that had once been necessary
had become a hazard to living.
Belief was something like that.
He jerked out of his thoughts to
listen to a car on the road. It slowed
down. It stopped by the gate. A car
door slammed. A man appeared
briefly in the light of the head-
lamps. Captain Waters— alone.
He loomed a moment later inside
YE OF LITTLE FAITH
the pasture in the light of a flash-
light. He occasionally flashed it on
his face so he would be recogniz-
Fred felt an impulse to slip away
into the darkness. He hadn't been
seen. Captain Waters was just hop-
ing he might be here.
A stronger impulse made him re-
main as he was. The entire pattern
of Captain Waters' approach in-
dicated understanding — or at least
the willingness to understand.
The bobbing flashlight came
closer. It speared out and touched
him; then abruptly went out. Foot-
steps approached. A dark form
emerged from the gloom.
"Hello, Fred," Captain Waters
said quietly. "I came to keep you
company. I'll just sit quiet and not
"Okay," Fred said.
THERE WERE movements. A
small flame illuminated Captain
Waters' features as he lit his pipe.
The flame went out. Then, only the
occasional glow of the pipe, briefly
illuminating the police Captain's
Crrroak! The frog greeted this
newest arrival in his domain.
Fred could not think. He was too
conscious of the man sitting near
him. He fought down the impulse
to jump up and run away into the
darkness. He fought the desire to
scream at the man to leave him
Perhaps the police captain sensed
this, or perhaps he could see Fred's
expression when the coal in his pipe
glowed brightest. "Tell you what,"
he said suddenly, "You maybe
would feel better alone. I'll wait in
the car. When you get ready you
can come home. No more doctors.
Mom gave me a good talking to.
She wants you to come back."
Waters got up and walked away
into the night. Minutes later there
was the sound of a car door slam-
ming shut. Fred was alone again.
Alone. It was a feeling, almost an
emotion. Intellectually he knew
that nearby was a frog. A block
away across the meadow was the
police captain sitting in his car.
Abruptly, without warning, a
flash of insight spread through his
entire mind. He knew suddenly
what belief was. He knew it instinc-
tively and without question.
And knowing it, he knew that his
foundations of unbelief were a
semantic illusion that had been
built up within him. The panorama
of his mind, his entire life, stood
clearly before him.
The cute little tags of probability
were superficial. They had a prag-
matic value in keeping the mind
open, but their function was to
guide the judgment in tagging
thoughts with belief or disbelief.
He retreated into his aloneness
until there was nothing but himself.
He marveled at the unfoldment of
this new understanding. He could
see things in this new light of un-
But then ... A question loomed.
If that were so, why hadn't he van-
ished like the others? Belief was an
automatic process. Why hadn't it
permeated to the basic matrix of his
mind as it had with the others?
Was he, then, still on the wrong
But there was no other!
He saw the trap he had set for
himself. He had believed with all
hjs being that belief was the key
he was searching for!
He had been on the wrong track.
His beautiful theory of belief that
spread downward into the subcon-
scious, then down lower and lower
into the basic matrix that held a
person in this reality, was wrong.
The evidence he had based it on
was still there, but it was evidence
of something else.
The eastern horizon was suffused
with light. It grew stronger, dim-
ming the light of the moon.
From somewhere in the depths of
his being rose a feeling that soon
he would know, and when he did
he would be close to crossing the
He unclasped his arms and
straightened out his legs, feeling
stabs of pain in his weary muscles.
He got to his feet, tingling with
By the side of the road, he could
see the police car he had stolen —
infinite ages ago. He walked toward
it, and when he reached it he
climbed in and closed the door.
"Beautiful morning," Captain
Waters said, starting the motor.
FRED AWOKE and opened
his eyes. Across the room the
Firm h doors were open. Sunlight
». is filtering through the copper
screens. A breeze was playing gently
wiili the drapes. For a moment the
i!i. .hi. the long walk into the coun-
iiv, his rendezvous with Aloncness,
Captain Water's coming to bring
him b.nk, all seemed the stuff of
dreams. He had the feeling that he
had never left this enormous bed.
Then it returned. Reality. The
miracle of his reorientation to be-
lief, the new vistas that went with
it. The full realization of the true
nature of the vanishments.
He became aware of a figure in
the doorway, watching him. It was
Mrs. Waters. "Awake?" she asked
"Yes," Fred said.
"Want some breakfast?"
He nodded. She went away.
He raised his head and looked
about the room, at the homey
touches, the family pictures on the
dresser and the walls, the hand
sewed knickknacks and frills. This
was probably the Waters' own bed-
room that they had given up for
He could vanish while Mrs.
Waters was away. She would come
in with the breakfast tray and find
When would the moment of re-
He frowned in thought. That
had' stirred up something about
what he had dreamed, or thought,
while he was asleep. Something that
had the flavor of being very im-
"Here you are!" Mrs. Waters
said, sweeping into the room with
the tray and its Swedish design
dishes and steaming coffee and hot
cereal. As she bent over to set the
tray on the bed, there came the
sound of the front door opening.
"There's Pa, home already." She
smiled worriedly at Fred. "Will you
be all right? I'll tell Pa to come in
and keep you company while I fix
YE OF LITTLE FAITH
"Yes ma'am," Fred said, eyeing
the food hungrily. "Only— " She
was at the door. She stopped and
looked around questioningly. "I — I
think I'd like to be alone while I
"All right," she said, and hurried
But Captain Waters had brushed
in without giving her a chance to
tell him to stay away. "Hello, son,"
he said warmly. "Have a good
Mrs. Waters said, "You let him
alone while he eats."
"It's all right," Fred said hastily.
"Sure it's all right," the police
captain said. He sat down and took
out his pipe. He concerned himself
with filling it and lighting it, saying
Fred picked up a piece of golden
toast and bit into one corner ab-
sently. The thoughts he had had
during sleep were filtering into con-
He recalled how his mother had
looked. There had been a fleeting
expression just before she had van-
ished. She had been going to say
something. She had changed hex:
mind and had vanished instead!
And Curt — he had had his re-
orientation at least several seconds
before vanishing. He had had it,
and then, with his new perspective,
had said, "So that's it!"
It was as though the new orienta-
tion made everything else unimpor-
One common factor stood out in
every case, those two he had per-
sonally witnessed, and the others he
hadn't seen. One common factor.
Vanishing, or whatever happened
that produced the vanishing, had
been an impulse.
There had been time for thought.
For example, Curt might have con-
sidered the practicality of telling
Fred what had happened to him.
But he might* have reflected that
eventually Fred would discover
what he had just discovered, so why
In the office Curt had told him
of a whole city of a million people
vanishing, leaving empty houses
and streets. Had the cause been the
same? A true orientation?
Fred looked at Captain Waters,
sitting quietly, puffing slowly on his
pipe. With deliberation Waters un-
crossed his legs and leaned forward.
"You know, son, when you get
around to it — that is, if you feel up
to it sometime — I wish you'd tell
me about it. What it is that's trou-
bling you. I'll try to understand."
"You'll try—?" Fred echoed.
And the police captain's words
started a train of thought. The
others — had the place they'd gone
been a heaven or a hell? So many
of them — -. Fred started suddenly.
? 'The book!" he cried.
"I've got to see the publisher
about my father's book. It's very
"It can wait until you're feeling
better," Waters said.
"No. I've got to see Mr.
"I— I can't tell you."
"All right." Captain Waters gave
in. "I'll take you down and bring
It was half an hour later, in the
reception room at the publishing
company. Fred stared numbly at
the big poster on the wall advertis-
ing his father's book.
"Mr. Browne will see you," the
"Wait here," Fred told Captain
Waters. "I want to talk to him
alone." He went to the door and
opened it, stepping inside and clos-
ing it behind him.
"Fred Grant?" Browne said, get-
ting up from his desk and coming
toward him, hand outstretched.
"What can I do for you? Need
Fred was shaking his head. "I
don't want any money," he said. "I
want you to stop my father's book.
You can't publish it."
"Now wait," Browne said. "We
aren't going through that again, are
"You can't!" Fred said. "People
will read it and vanish!"
"People will read it and vanish!
You've got to believe me. The
cause of those disappearances is in
Browne stared for a moment,
then dragged over a notepad, won-
dering how his publicity boys had
missed this one. He stood up and
came around his desk. "You leave it
to me," he said. "You won't have a
thing to worry about. I'll take care
"Then you won't publish it?"
Browne was guiding him toward
the door. "You leave it to me. Drop
in again soon. If you need money
just drop in any time and I'll fix
Fred found himself outside the
door, not quite sure what Mr.
Browne had promised.
Inside, Browne went back to his
desk, muttering, "What a killing!
Have to tell Nichols about it to-
morrow at lunch. That vanishing
stuff is a terrific publicity angle."
"You still don't want to tell me
what's troubling you?" Police Cap-
tain Waters said wistfully.
A frown crossed Fred's features
and vanished into a smile. "Noth-
ing's troubling me," he lied. "I'm
all right. I'll be all right."
"You'll stay with us a while
"Sure. Sure. You make me feel —
okay. I'm just going out for a ride.
Be back for supper."
IT HAD been two months now
since his mother and Curt had
vanished. In that two months he
had come to realize something. He
didn't quite know how to express
it even in his thoughts.
It wasn't that he didn't want to
vanish. He would, some day. But
he had given up trying. It was the
wrong way. The others hadn't
tried. It had just come to them out
of a clear sky.
Some day it would come to him
that way, and he would welcome it.
He drove downtown and parked.
A block away was a show he
wanted to see. He started toward
it. Abruptly he stopped. In front
of him was a bookstore. In its win-
dow was a large display, and every
book had his father's picture on the
front under the title THEORY
FOR THE MILLIONS.
In back of the display was a large
poster with a still larger picture,
and the teaser— (DO YOU DARE
READ THIS BOOK?)
YE OF LITTLE FAITH
Anger flamed in Fred's mind.
The anger died as abruptly as it
had come. It was replaced by a
homesickness, a longing. Uncon-
sciously his footsteps carried him
into the store.
A man had the book in his hands.
"You aren't going to buy that,
George," the woman beside him
"And why not?" the man asked,
laughing. "I've never turned down
a dare in my life!" He looked at the
girl waiting on him. "Do you think
I'll vanish, Miss?"
The clerk smiled. "I wouldn't
know. I have strict orders not to
read the book."
A solemn-faced man appeared
out of nowhere and thrust a copy of
the book at the clerk. "I want this,
please," he said.
"I'll be with you in a moment,
sir," the clerk said.
Others were waiting also.
Fred stumbled from the store,
bumping into someone in the door-
way as he went through, and too
confused and frightened to stop
and apologize. There was no way
of stopping it. Maybe the police
would become alarmed at the dis-
"What's wrong with me?" he
mumbled, walking blindly in the
crowds on the sidewalks. "Maybe
I do lack the ability to believe. I
think I believe. What have I
Only he, of all those who had
learned the theory, had not van-
ished. Was faith, then, something
so common, and yet impossible for
he, himself, to reach?
Ahead was another bookstore. In
its windows were the same displays.
He stopped. People were pushing
through the doors. Inside they were
picking up the book and looking for
The clerks were smiling and say-
ing things Fred couldn't hear, and
wrapping the books and handing
them to their new owners — people
who would take them home and
read — and vanish.
Into what? Something they
would see, and smile at, and say,
"Why, of course!" And with a sim-
ple acceptance they would enter it.
He watched them.
And from the depths of his be-
ing Fred longed to be one of them;
to be able to go in and buy the
book, and read it, and. ...
On the other side of the window,
in the store, a clerk was waiting on
a customer. The customer turned to
look at him, with his nose flattened
against the glass. He didn't see
them. In his eyes was a faraway
look, a startled light.
"Why of course!" he said in quiet
There was just a little blur,
where a nose had pressed against
the window, and the customer
frowned and said " to the clerk,
"That young man outside— he —
"Three-fifty, please," the clerk
"Ah— oh. Oh, sure."
■THE END 1
What is to be will be. Our only refuge
lies in that which might not have been.
By Robert Turner
Illustrated by KELLY FREAS
December 8th, 1952, Two-Thirty
^FTER. awhile the blinding light
. wa3 like actual physical pres-
sure against his tightly squinched
eyes. He tried to burrow deeper into
the protectively warm, cave-like
place where he'd been safe from
them for so long. But he couldn't es-
cape them. Their hands, their big,
red, hideously smooth hands had
him, now. They were tugging and
pulling at him with a strength im-
possible to fight. Still he struggled.
He tried to cry out but there was
no sound from his constricted
throat. There were only the fright-
ening noises from outside, louder,
now. He tried to twist and squirm
against the hands dragging him to-
ward that harsh, blinding light. He
was too small, too weak, compared
to them. He couldn't fight them off.
He felt himself being stretched and
strained and forced with cruel de-
termination. He didn't want to go
out there. He knew what was wait-
ing for him out there. He couldn't
go. Not out there, where ...
When Jeff McKinney was three
years old he tipped a pot of scalding
water from the stove onto himself.
He was badly burned and scarred.
He hovered between life and death
for several weeks. Jeffs father was
out of work at the time and they
were living in a cold water tene-
ment. Something about the case
caught a tabloid's attention and it
was played up as a human interest
sob story. It came to the attention
of a wealthy man who volunteered
to pay for plastic surgery. Then fol-
lowed, long months of that kind of
torture, but Jeff McKinney came
out of it not too badly scarred. Not
on the surface, anyhow. But his face
had a strange hue. There was a
frozen, mask-like cast to his features
when he smiled.
He was eight when he saw his
father killed. He was in the taxi the
older McKinney now drove for a
living when the father stepped out
of the driver's side onto a busy
street without looking back first.
The speeding truck took the car
door and Jeffs father with it for
half a block, wedged between front
wheel and fender. Jeff never forgot
the sound of that, and the scream-
ing. Nor his shock when he sudden-
ly realized that the screams were
Jeff was a strange boy. He didn't
have an average childhood. The
poverty was more extreme after his
father's death. He stayed home
alone while his mother was out
working at whatever job she could
get, reading too much and think-
ing too much. Once, he looked at
her with haunted eyes and said:
"Mother, why is life so bad? Why
are people even born into a world
What could she say to a question
like that? She said : "Please, Jeffer-
son! Please don't talk that way.
Life isn't all bad. You'll see. Some
day, in spite of everything, you'll be
somebody and you'll be happy. The
good times will come."
They did, of course. A few of
them. There was the day he went
upstate on an outing for under-
privileged boys and went fishing for
the first time. He caught a whop-
ping trout and won a prize for it
That was nice; that was fun. That
was when he was thirteen. That
was the year the gang of kids
caught him on the way home from
school and beat him unconscious
because he never laughed; because
they couldn't make him laugh. The
year before his mother died.
At the orphanage he didn't min-
gle much with the other boys. He
spent most of his after-classes hours
alone in the school's chemistry lab.
He liked to tinker with chemicals.
They were cold, emotionless, im-
mune to joy and sadness, yet they
had purpose. He played the cello,
too, with haunting beauty, but not
in the school band, only when he
wanted to, when nobody was
around and he could really feel the
Once, on the way home from his
cello lesson in the music building,
he saw some boys playing football
on the orphanage athletic field. He
was suddenly seized with a fierce
determination to belong, to grab at
some of the shouting, laughing hap-
piness these boys seemed to have.
He told them he wanted to join in
and play, too. He didn't understand
why they laughed so at this idea.
They stopped laughing, though,
after the first time he ran with the
ball, and they all piled up on him
and he didn't get up. He lay there,
looking so ghostly and breathing so
harshly and with the trickle of
blood coming out of his ears. But
Jeff didn't know they had stopped
He recovered from that skull
fracture, all right. Worse, though,
than any of the unhappiness he suf-
fered during his life, worse even
than the shocks of his father's and
mother's deaths, was the thing that
happened to him when he was
twenty and working at the labora-
tories of a big drug company.
He met and fell hopelessly in
love with a girl named Nina, a girl
a few years older than he was. They
married and for the first few weeks
Jeff McKinney had happiness he'd
never known before. Until he came
home from work sick, one after-
noon and saw Nina with the man
from the apartment over them. She
didn't whine and beg for forgive-
ness, Nina didn't. She stood boldly
while the other man laughed and
laughed and she screamed invective
upon Jefferson McKinney, telling
him what she really thought of him,
a gloomy, puny weakling who
couldn't even make a decent living,
telling him that she was through
A blank spot came into Jeffs life
right them. When it was over, Nina
and the other man were on the
floor and there was blood on the
kitchen carving knife in Jeff's hand.
They didn't find him for awhile.
He changed his name and appear-
ance and hid in the soiled seams
and ragged fringes of society. He
learned the anaesthetic powers of
drugs and alcohol. He gave up try-
ing to get anything out of this life.
Then they finally picked him up,
fished him from the river into
which he'd jumped. There were
days of torture after that, without
the alcohol and drugs his wrecked
system craved. Right there was the
final hell that could have broken
him completely. But it didn't. It
was like the terrible crisis after a
long illness. Things began to get
better, to go to the other extreme
A state psychiatrist brought Jeffs
case to the attention of a noted
criminal lawyer. Neither Nina nor
her lover had died from their knife
wounds. On the plea of the un-
written law, Jeff McKinney got off
with a suspended sentence. The
lawyer and psychiatrist learned of
his interest and knowledge and
talent for chemistry and got him
another job in the experimental
laboratory of a big university.
Later he married a girl named
Elaine, who worked at the lab with
him. They had two children, and
lived in a small comfortable cottage
just off the University campus. For
several years, they had all they
wanted of life — comfort, health,
happiness. Jeff thought that life
could never be more wonderful. All
of his former, bitter, cynical views
fell away from him. Hadn't he,
with all odds against him, finally
won out and acquired peace and
contentment and a purpose in life?
What was wrong with a world in
which that could happen?
Then there was the topper. Jeff-
erson McKinney discovered a new
drug which would cure and even-
tually eliminate a disease that was
one of the world's worst killers, the
drug for which thousands of sci-
entists had been seeking for years.
He was feted and honored, be-
came a national hero. The story of
his life and his discovery tempo-
rarily pushed even the doleful fore-
casts of an early Third War, the
Big War, off the front pages. And
Jeff was humbly proud and grateful
that he had paid now the debt he
owed to a society that could make a
final victory, like his, possible.
In a zenith of almost holy hap-
piness, he stood one evening on a
lecture platform in a huge audi-
torium in a great city, before thou-
sands of worshipping people to
make a thank-you speech after be-
ing awarded a world prize for his
great scientific discovery.
(Continued on page 94)
The Arrow lanced down out of the night
like a spear of flame, vengeful and deadly.
The legends of Jaq Merril are legion — but legends.
Hark, ye, then to the true story of the pirate bene-
factor, of. Mankind!:
By Alfred Coppel
Illustrated by BOB MARTIN
WE HUMANS are a strange
breed, unique in the Uni-
verse. Of all the races met among
the stars, only homo sapiens thrives
on deliberate self-delusion. Perhaps
this is the secret of our greatness,
for we are great. In power, if not
in supernal wisdom.
Legends, I think, are our
strength. If one day a man stands
on the rim of the Galaxy and looks
out across the gulfs toward the
seetee suns of Andromeda, it will
be legends that drove him there.
They are odd things, these
legends, peopled with unreal crea-
tures, magnificent heroes and des-
picable villains. We stand for no
nonsense where our mythology is
concerned. A man becoming part
of our folk-lore becomes a fey, one-
dimensional, shadow-image of re-
Jaq Merril — the Jaq Merril of
the history books — is such an im-
age. History^ folklore's jade, has
daubed Merril with the rouge of
myth, and it does not become him.
The Peacemaker, the chronicles
have named him, and that at least,
is accurate in point of fact. But it
was not through choice that he be-
came the Peacemaker; and when
his Peace descended over the
worlds of space, Merril, the man,
was finished. This I know, for I
rode with him — his lieutenant in a
dozen and more bloody fights that
earned him his ironically pacific
Not many now living will re-
member the Wall Decade. History,
ever pliable, is rewritten often, and
facts are forgotten. When it was
gone, the Wall Decade was remem-
bered with shame and so was ex-
punged from the record of time.
But I remember it well. It was an
era compounded of stupidity and
grandeur, of brilliant discovery and
grimy political maneuver. We, the
greedy men of space — and that in-
cludes Jaq Merril — saw it end with
sorrow in our hearts, knowing that
we had killed it.
If you will think back to the
years immediately preceding the
Age of Space, you may remember
the Iron Curtain. Among the na-
tions of the Earth a great schism
had arisen, and a wall of ideas was
built between east and west. Hydro-
gen bombs were stockpiled and
armies marched and counter-
marched threateningly. Men lived
with fear and hatred and distrust.
Then, suddenly, came the years
of spaceflight and the expanding
frontiers. Luna was passed. Mars
and Venus and the Jovian Moons
felt the tread of living beings for
the first time since the dawn of
time. The larger asteroids were
taken and even the cold moonlets
of Saturn and Uranus trembled
under the blast of Terran rockets.
But the Iron Curtain still existed.
It was extended out into the gulf
of space, an intangible wall of fear
and suspicion. Thus was born the
Jaq Merril was made for that
epoch. Ever in human history there-
are those who profit from the stu-
pidity of their fellows. Jaq Merril
so profited. He dredged up the
riches of space and took them for
his own. And his weapon was man's
fear of his brothers.
IT WAS in Yakki, down-canal
from the Terran settlement at
Canalopolis, that Merril's plan was
born. His ship, the Arrow, stood on
the red sands of Syrtis Major, wait-
ing for a payload to the Outer Sys-
tem. It stood among a good many
like it: the Moonmaid, the Gay
Lady, the Argonaut, and my own
vessel, the Starhound.
We, the captains, had gathered
in the Spaceman's Rest — a tinkling
gin-mill peopled with human
wrecks and hungry-eyed, dusty-
skinned women who had come out
to Mars hoping for riches and had
found only the same squalor they
had left behind. I remember the
look in Merril's eyes as he spoke
of the treasures of space that would
never be ours, of the gold and
sapphires, the rubies and unearthly
gems of fragile beauty and great
price. All the riches of the worlds
of space, passing through our hands
and into the vaults of the stay-at-
homes who owned our ships and
our very lives. It seemed to me that
Merril suffered as though from
physical pain as he spoke of riches.
He was nothing if not rapacious.
Greedy, venal, ruthless. All of that.
"Five of us," he said in a hard
voice, "Captains all — with ships
and men. We carry the riches of
the universe and let it slip through
our fingers. What greater fools
could there be?"
Oh, he was right enough. We
had the power to command in our
hands without the sense to grasp it
firmly and take what we chose.
"And mark you, my friends,"
Merril said, "A wall has been built
around Mars. A wall that weakens
rather than strengthens. A wonder-
ful, stupid, wall . . ." He laughed
and glanced around the table at
our faces, flushed with wine and
greed. "With all space full of
walls," he said softly, "Who could
unite against us?"
The question struck home. I
thought of the five ships standing
out there on the rusty desert across
the silted canal. Five tall ships —
against the stars. We felt no kinship
to those at home who clung to
creature comforts while we buck-
eted among the stars risking our
lives and more. We, the spacemen,
had become a race apart from that
of the home planet. And Merril
saw this in our faces that night so
long ago, and he knew that he had
spoken our thoughts.
Thus was born the Compact.
Gods of space, but I must laugh
when I read what history has re-
corded of the Compact.
"Merril, filled with the wonder
of his great dream, spoke his mind
to the Captains. He told them of
the sorrow in his heart for his di-
vided fellow men, and his face grew
stern when he urged them to put
aside ideology and prejudice and
join with him in the Compact."
So speaks Quintus Bland, his-
torian of the Age of Space. I im-
agine that I hear Merril's laughter
even as I write. Oh, we put aside
ideology and prejudice, all right!
That night in Yakki the five Cap-
tains clasped hands over the forma-
tion of the first and only compact of
space-piracy in history!
IT WAS an all or nothing ven-
ture. Our crews were told noth-
ing, but their pockets were emptied
and their pittances joined with
ours. We loaded the five ships with
supplies and thundered off into the
cobalt Martian sky to seek a strong-
hold. We found one readily enough.
The chronicles do not record it ac-
curately. They say that the fleet of
the Compact based itself on Eros.
This is incorrect. We wanted no
Base that would bring us so close
to the home planet every year. The
asteroid we chose was nameless,
and remained so. We spoke of it
seldom aspace, but it was ever in
our minds. There was no space
Wall, there to divide us one from
the other. It was a fortress against
the rest of mankind, and in it we
When we struck for the first time,
it was not at a Russian missile post
as the histories say. It was at the
Queen of Heaven, an undefended
and unsuspecting merchantman.
The records of Earth say the Queen
was lost in space between Uranus
and Mars, and this is so. But she
was listed lost only because no Rus-
sian or American patrol found her
gutted hulk. I imagine that at this
very moment she hangs out beyond
Pluto, rounding the bend of the
long ellipse we sent her on that day
we stripped her bones.
She carried gold and precious
stones — and more important yet,
women being furloughed home
after forced labor in the mines of
Soviet Umbriel. The Starhound
and the Arrow bracketed her a mil-
lion miles above the plane of the
ecliptic near Saturn's orbit, and
killed her. We drew abreast of her
and forced her valves. We boarded
her and took what we chose. Then
we slaughtered her men and sent
them on their long voyage. That
was the beginning.
The attack against Corfu was our
next move. This is the battle that
Celia Witmar Day has described in
verse. Very bad verse.
"Corfu slumbered, gorged and
While Arrow, Hound and
Freedom's might above the
And rained down death — "
There is much more, of course.
Brave phrases of emotion and fan-
ciful unreality written by one who
never saw the night of space agleam
There was no talk of tyranny or
liberty aboard the Hound that day
we leveled with the Maid and the
Arrow a thousand miles over the
Russian base of Corfu. There was
talk of the bullion stored under the
Merril's face appeared in my
visor screen, superimposed on the
image of the grimy little asteroid
floating darkly against the star-
"Their radar has picked us up
by now, and they're wondering who
we are," he said, "Take the Hound
out on tangent left and join the
Maid. Cover my attack and stand
by to put a landing party aground."
I watched the image of the
Arrow— a sliver of darkness against
the crescent of Corfu — lancing
down at the fortress. Her forward
tubes were glowing with the fa-
miliar pre-discharge emanation.
Below us, confusion reigned. For
the first time in memory an asteroid
Base was under attack. Merril
brought the Arrow in to within fifty
miles and then unleashed the fury
of his forward tubes. Hellfire cor-
uscated over the steel turrets and
stone walls of Corfu. It splashed
like a liquid flame over men arid
metal and twisted the towers and
buttresses into spidery tendrils of
glowing thread. Corfu died with-
out firing a shot.
We put a party from the Hound
aground ten hours later. Even then,
we had to wear insulated suits to
walk in that still molten inferno.
Charred bodies had become one
with the stuff of the fortress, and
nothing living was left within the
keep. We looted Corfu's treasure
and lifted into space heavy with
Time passed in an orgy of loot-
ing for the men of the Compact.
We grew rich and arrogant, for in
space we were kings. Torn by sus-
picion of one another, America and
Russia could do nothing against us.
They had built an Iron Curtain in
space, and it kept them divided
Endymion felt our blasts, and
Clio. Then came Tethys, Rhea,
Iapetus. We cared nothing for the
flag these Bases flew. They were
the gathering points for all the gold
and treasure of space and we of the
Compact took what we wished of
it, leaving a trail of blood and
rapine behind us. No nation
claimed our loyalty; space was our
mother and lust our father.
Thus, the Peacemakers.
FOR FIVE full years— the long
years of the Outer Belt — the
Arrow, the Starhound, the Moon-
maid, the Lady and the Argonaut
were the scourges of the spacelanes.
No patrol could find us, and no de-
fense could contain us. I recall how
we laughed at the angry sputtering
of Earth's radio. Vast sums were
spent in searches and new weapons
to protect the meek and the mu-
tually distrustful from Merril and
the men of the Compact. Budgets,
already strained to the breaking
point by generations of the cold
war, creaked and groaned as Rus-
sians and Americans spent furiously
to build up their defenses against
our depredations. But though we
were few and they many — space
was large and it hid us well.
And then one darkling day, Jaq
Merril and I stood on the thin
methane snow that carpeted our
Base's landing ramp, waiting under
our own blue-black sky for the re-
turn of the Argonaut. Merril had
sent her sunward to strike at the
mines of Loki, an asteroid where
Russian komisars rolled in moun-
tains of blood-red rubies.
We waited through the day and
into the sable night, but the Argo-
naut did not return. For the first
time since the formation of the
Compact, we had lost a ship, and
something like unease crept into
our hearts. The carousal that night
had no gaiety, and there was the
sound of bereaved women weeping.
Merril could learn nothing of the
Argonaut's fate. It was as though
she had dropped through a hole in
the fabric of space itself and van-
ished from the ken of men. To me
he said: "I fear a new weapon."
But to the rest, he kept his peace
and let the work of the Compact
continue. There was nothing else
to be done. Our Wall Decade was
waning, and when a man or a Com-
pact outlives the age that gave him
or it birth, there is nothing to do
but go forward and meet the new
So it was with the Compact. We
lived on as we had lived before:
looting and killing and draining the
wealth of space into our coffers. But
in the back of our minds a shadow
On the next raid, the Lady was
lost. I saw it happen, as did Merril.
There was nothing we could do to
help her, and she died, spilling men
into the void as she ruptured in her
It was off Hyperion, whence we
had come to loot the trove built
there by the prospectors of the
Saturnian Moons. And it was a
The Arrow, the Hound and the
Lady circled the moonlet, swinging
inward to the attack. It was the
Lady who was to put aground the
raiding party, and her valves hung
open while men readied the assault-
boats. Our radar screens showed
nothing of danger. There was only
the bloated giant in the sky, a
ringed monster of yellow gold
against the starry velvet of space.
The Lady dropped her boats, the
Hound and the Arrow hovering by
to watch over their sister. And sud-
denly, the jagged moonscape below
erupted — belching streaks of fire
that sought us like probing fingers.
I knew in one single instant of ter-
ror that this was the new weapon
that had killed the Argonaut, for it
sliced into the Lady's flanks as
though the steelite hull were cheese.
She bulged, glowing like an em-
ber. There was a sudden nimbus of
snow about her as her air escaped
and froze, and then she rolled into
her death-dance, open from bow
to stern, spilling scorched corpses
into the void.
The Arrow and the Hound
drove off into space like furies leav-
ing the spinning body of their sister
ship behind, not waiting to watch
her crash down onto the rocky face
of Hyperion. And now the five of
the Compact were only three, and
again there was the sound of weep-
ing among our women.
TWO MONTHS after thaFen-
gagement, a single assault-boat
returned to Base. It was the lone
survivor of the Lady's landing
party. By some miracle, the three
men aboard had escaped the holo-
caust. They had landed and been
captured and then they had fought
their way free and into the void
once more. They were half-dead
from starvation and exposure, but
they had brought word to Merril
that the wall that had so long pro-
tected us was crumbling.
Merril sought me out, his lean
hard face grim and set.
"There was a Russian among the
Americans on Hyperion," he said.
"A prisoner?" It was my hope
that spoke so, not my sure knowl-
edge of what was to come.
Merril shook his head slowly. "A
technician. They developed the
beam that killed the Argonaut and
the Lady — together." His voice was
harsh and bleak. Then suddenly he
laughed. "We've touched them,"
he said, "Touched them on their
tender spot — -their purses." He
bowed low, filled with bitter mock-
ery. "Behold the diplomats, the
men who are accomplishing the
And I knew that his words spelt
doom. Doom for the Compact and
for the Wall Decade that was our
Yet we did not stint. In that year
we raided Dione, Io, Gannymede,
and even the American naval Base
on Callisto. We gutted six Russian
and four American rockets filled
with treasure. And we ventured
sunward as far as the moons of
We dared battles with patrol
ships and won. We killed the de-
stroyer Alexei Tolstoi off Europa
and we shattered an American
monitor over Syrtis itself, and
watched the wreckage rain down
on Yakki, the place where the Com-
pact was born.
And we lost the Moonmaid.
The radio told us the story.
Other new weapons were being de-
veloped against us, and here and
there American and Russian space-
craft were seen in company for the
first time in the history of the Age
of Space. Convoys were formed
from ships of both flags to protect
spatial commerce from the im-
agined "great fleet" of the Com-
pact. None knew that only the Ar-
row and the Starhound, small ships,
weary ships, were left to face the
slowly combining might of Earth.
And then at last, the pickings —
growing slimmer always — dimin-
ished to the vanishing point. Merril
stood before us and gave the assem-
bled crews their option.
"The treasure hunt is over," our
captain told us, "And those who
wish may withdraw now. Take
your women and the space-boats
and return to Mars. You have your
shares, and you can live in comfort
wherever you may choose. If you
wish it, go now."
Some few did go, but most re-
mained. I watched Merril's face,
and saw one last plan maturing
there. Then he spoke again and we
all understood. One last raid . . .
to take Luna and command the
"Still the unity of Mankind was
not secure, and Merril, filled with
impatience for his great dream, de-
cided on one final stroke. He would
descend on Luna Base itself with
his fleet, and commanding all
Earth, he would drive men to-
gether — even though it might
mean his own death. With this plan
of self-immolation in his heart, the
Peacemaker ordered his hosts and
sought the pumice soil of the moth'
er planet's moon. . ."
This is the way Quintus Bland,
historian and scholar puts it down
for posterity. I, one of "his hosts",
would say it another way.
We had gutted the Solar System
of its treasure and at last men were
uniting against us. Our "fleet" was
reduced to two small ships and a
bare handful of men and women
to fight them. Jaq Merril could see
the handwriting on the wall and he
knew that all must be gambled on
one last throw of the dice. Only
with Terra herself under our guns
could we hope to continue sucking
the juice of the worlds into our
mouths. It was all or nothing, for
we had grown used to our life and
we could no longer change it to
meet the demands of the dawning
age of Soviet-American amity.
SIDE BY SIDE the Arrow and
the Hound slanted sunward.
Mars behind us, ahead lay the
Earth-Moon system. Ten years had
passed since any of us aboard the
Compact ships had seen the home
world, and though we no longer felt
a part of it, the sight of the silvery
cloud-flecked globe touched our
hearts. Touched them as the
sapphires of Mimas or the gold of
Corfu touched them. We saw the
planet that gave us birth and we
were filled with hunger for it. To
own it, command it, make it our
Luna's mountains were white
and stark under our keels as Merril
led us across the curve of the
southern horizon, seeking to put
us into position to attack the UN
Moon Base in Clavius from the
direction of the Moon's hidden
We swung low across unnamed
mountain ranges and deep sheer
valleys steeped in shadow. The
voice of the ranger in the Arrow
came softly through the open inter-
com into the tiny control room of
the Hound. A woman's voice, tense
with excitement, but disciplined
"Range five hundred miles, four
seventy five, four fifty — "
And then Merril's voice, calm
and reassuring, giving heart to all
the untried ones aboard with his
steady conning commands.
"Four o'clock jet, easy, hold her.
Drivers up one half standard.
Steady goes. Meet her. Steady — "
Line astern now, the two ships
flashing low across the jagged lunar
landscape, and a world in the ba-
An alarm bell ringing suddenly,
and my screen showing the fleeting
outline of a Russian monitor above,
running across our stern. My own
voice, sharp with command:
"Get me that gunboat."
The Hound's turret wound about
with agonizing slowness as the
monitor reached for the sky, claw-
ing for altitude and safety. And
then there came a searing blast of
fire and the fragments of the Rus-
sian gunboat raining down lazily,
seeking their eternal rest in the
pumice of Luna's hidden face.
But they had been warned at the
UN Base. The monitor had left one
dying shriek in the ether, and the
waiting garrison had heard. Merril
knew it, and so did I. We moved
forward calmly, into the jaws of
The Arrow attacked from ten
o'clock, low on the horizon, the
Hound from twelve o'clock high.
We swept in over the batteries of
pulsating projectors, raining down
our bombs. The ground shuddered
and shook with the fury of explod-
ing uranium and the sky was laced
with a net of fiery death. The
Hound shrieked her protest as I
swung her about for another attack.
There was a sickening swerve and
the smell of ozone in my ship.
Somewhere, deep within her, a
woman screamed and I felt the
deck under me give as one of the
questing beams from the fortress
below cut into the hull. Airtight
doors slammed throughout the
wounded vessel, and I drove her to
the attack again, hard. The last of
the bombs clattered out of the
events, sending mushrooms of pum-
ice miles into the black sky. One
battery of guns below fell silent.
The Arrow vanished into the
night above and as suddenly reap-
peared, her forward tubes spewing
red fire onto the Base below. Then
Merril pulled her up again and dis-
appeared among the pale stars.
The Hound's hurt was mortal, I
could feel her dying under my
hands, and tears streaked my face.
Below decks, she was a shambles
where the cutting beam from the
ground had torn part of her heart
out. Still I fought her. There was no
retreat from this last raid, nor did
I wish any. There was a madness in
us — a blood-lust as hot and de-
manding as ever our lust for gold
and treasure might have been.
I lashed the face of the fortress
with the Hound's forward tubes,
frantically, filled with a hateful an-
guish. I felt my ship losing way,
twisting and seeking rest on the
jagged ground below, and thinking
he had deserted us, I cursed Merril
in an ecstacy of blind fury.
Again and again the Hound was
hit. I knew then that Merril's plan
had been madness, a last gesture of
defiance to the new age of unity
among men. The Hound fell at last,
spitting fire and gall in a futile
dance of death.
She struck on a high plateau,
grinding into the pumice, rolling
with macabre abandon across the
face of the high tableland. Then at
last she was still, hissing and groan-
ing fitfully as she died, her buc-
caneering days gone forever.
I donned a suit and staggered,
half dazed, out into the lunar night.
A half-dozen men and women from
the crew had survived the impact
and they stood by the wreckage,
faces under the plastic helmets
turned skyward. They were one and
all stunned and bleeding from the
violence of the Hound's end, but
they looked neither back nor
around them. Their eyes were filled
with the insane glory of the drama
being enacted in the sky.
The Arrow had returned. She
lanced down out of the night like a
spear of flame, vengeful and deadly.
Straight into the mouth of the
screaming guns she dove, death
spilling from her tubes. She bathed
the Moon Base in fire, searing the
men within — Russian and Ameri-
can alike — into the brotherhood of
Miraculously, she pulled up out
of her encircling net of flame. We
watched in openmouthed wonder
as she reached with sobbing heart
for the sky just once again — and
then, failing, crippled and dying,
she hung above the crater's rim,
framed with deadly beams from
below, but radiant in her own right
— gleaming in the light of the sun.
This was defeat. We knew it as
we stood by the tangled pile of
steelite that had been the Hound
and watched the Arrow die. But
nothing in this life that I have lived
ever told me so grandly that the
Wall Decade was ended — and our
life of buccaneering with it — as the
thing that happened next.
The Arrow's valve opened and
a tiny figure stepped out— into
space. I did not need to be told that
Jaq Merril was coming to meet the
men he had welded together against
Lazily, unreally, the tiny shape
twisted over and over as it fell, until
at last it vanished amid the raw
welter of craters and ridges beyond
the razor wall of Clavius . . .
I HAVE TOLD a true tale,
though one that will not be be-
lieved. I have taken the Peacemaker
of the histories and painted him as
But men are ashamed, and the
chronicles of history must be re-
written to hide their weaknesses,
Jaq Merril has become a legend,
and the man that I knew is forgot-
Merril — pirate, fighter, grandiose
dreamer. That was my captain. Not
the colorless do-good creature of
the legend. Merril fought for lust
and greed, and these are the things
that will one day take men to the
stars. He knew this truth, of course,
and that was the substance of his
great dream. Because of it, there
are no longer walls in space, and
the men who united to fight the
Peacemaker will one day rule the
Meanwhile, chroniclers will write
lies about him, and Jaq Merril's
laughter will echo in some ghostly
Valhalla beyond the farthest star.
■ THE END -
/ put my arms around her shoulders
but there was no way 1 could comfort
There is a time for doing and a time for going home.
But where is home in an ever-changing universe?
By Mari Wolf
Illustrated by BOB MARTIN
IEWIS," Martha said. "I want
l to go home."
She didn't look at me. I followed
her gaze to Earth, rising in the
It came up over the desert hori-
zon, a clear, bright star at this dis-
tance. Right now it was the Morn-
ing Star. It wasn't long before
I looked back at Martha sitting
quietly beside me with her shawl
drawn tightly about her knees. She
had waited to see it also, of course.
It had become almost a ritual with
us these last few years, staying up
night after night to watch the
She didn't say anything more.
Even the gentle squeak of her rock-
ing chair had fallen silent. Only her
hands moved. I could see them
trembling where they lay folded
in her lap, trembling with emotion
and tiredness and old age. I knew
what she was thinking. After sev-
enty years there can be no secrets.
We sat on the glassed-in veranda
of our Martian home looking up at
the Morning Star. To us it wasn't a
point of light. It was the continents
and oceans of Earth, the moun-
tains and meadows and laughing
streams of our childhood. We saw
Earth still, though we had lived on
Mars for almost sixty-six years.
"Lewis," Martha whispered soft-
ly. "It's very bright tonight, isn't
"Yes," I said.
"It seems so near."
She sighed and drew the shawl
higher about her waist.
"Only three months by rocket
ship," she said. "We could be back
home in three months, Lewis, if we
went out on this week's run."
I nodded. For years we'd
watched the rocket ships streak up-
ward through the thin Martian at-
MARI WOLF, j
mosphere, and we'd envied the
men who so casually travelled from
world to world. But it had been a
useless envy, something of which
we rarely spoke.
Inside our veranda the air was
cool and slightly moist. Earth air,
perfumed with the scent of Earth
roses. Yet we knew it was only illu-
sion. Outside, just beyond the glass,
the cold night air of Mars lay thin
and alien and smelling of alkali. It
seemed to me tonight that I could
smell that ever-dry Martian dust,
even here. I sighed, fumbling for
"Lewis," Martha said, very
"What is it?" I cupped my hands
over the match flame.
"Nothing. It's just that I wish —
I wish we could go home, right
away. Home to Earth. I want to
see it again, before we die."
"We'll go back," I said. "Next
year for sure. We'll have enough
She sighed. "Next year may be
I looked over at her, startled.
She'd never talked like that before.
I started to protest, but the words
died away before I could even
speak them. She was right. Next
year might indeed be too late.
Her work-coarsened hands were
thin, too thin, and they never
stopped shaking any more. Her
body was a frail shadow of what it
had once been. Even her voice was
She was old. We were both old.
There wouldn't be many more
Martian summers for us, nor many
years of missing Earth.
"Why can't we go back this year,
She smiled at me almost apolo-
getically. She knew the reason as
well as I did.
"We can't," I said. "There's not
"There's enough for our tickets."
I'd explained all that to her be-
fore, too. Perhaps she'd forgotten
Lately I often had to explain thing
more than once.
"You can't buy passage unless
you have enough extra for insur-
ance, and travelers' checks, and
passport tax. The company has to
protect -itself. Unless you're finan-
cially responsible, they won't take
you on the ships."
She shook her head. "Sometimes
I wonder if we'll ever have
WE'D SAVED our money for
years, but it was a pitifully
small savings. We weren't rich peo-
ple who could go down to the
spaceport and buy passage on the
rocket ships, no questions asked, no
bond required. We were only farm-
ers, eking our livelihood from the
unproductive Martian soil, only
two of the countless little people of
the solar system. In all our lifetime
we'd never been able to save
enough to go home to Earth.
"One more year," I said. "If the
crop prices stay up. . ."
She smiled, a sad little smile that
didn't reach her eyes. "Yes, Lewis,"
she said. "One more year."
But I couldn't stop thinking of
what she'd said earlier, nor stop see-
ing her thin, tired body. Neither of
us was strong any more, but of the
two I was far stronger than she.
When we'd left Earth she'd been
as eager and graceful as a child.
We hadn't been much past child-
hood then, either of us. . . .
"Sometimes I wonder why we
ever came here," she said.
"It's been a good life."
She sighed. "I know. But now
that it's nearly over, there's nothing
to hold us here."
"No," I said. "There's not."
If we had had children it might
have been different. As it was, we
lived surrounded by the children
and grandchildren of our friends.
Our friends themselves were dead.
One by one they had died, all of
those who came with us on the
first colonizing ship to Mars. All of
those who came later, on the second
and third ships. Their children
were our neighbors now — and they
were Martian born. It wasn't the
She leaned over and pressed my
hand. "We'd better go in, Lewis,"
she said. "We need our sleep."
Her eyes were raised again to
the green star that was Earth.
Watching her, I knew that I loved
her now as much as when we had
been young together. More, really,
for we had added years of shared
memories. I wanted so much to
give her what she longed for, what
we both longed for. But I couldn't
think of any way to do it. Not this
Once, almost seventy years be-
fore, I had smiled at the girl who
had just promised to become my
wife, and I'd said: "I'll give you
the world, darling. All tied up in
I didn't want to think about that
We got up and went into the
house and shut the veranda door
I COULDN'T go to sleep. For
hours I lay in bed staring up at
the shadowed ceiling, trying to
think of some way to raise the
money. But there wasn't any way
that I could see. It would be at
least eight months before enough
of the greenhouse crops were har-
What would happen, I won-
dered, if I went to the spaceport
and asked for tickets? If I ex-
plained that we couldn't buy in-
surance, that we couldn't put up
the bond guaranteeing we wouldn't
become public charges back on
Earth. . . . But all the time I won-
dered I knew the answer. Rules
were rules. They wouldn't be
broken especially not for two old
farmers who had long outlived
their usefulness and their time.
Martha sighed in her sleep and
turned over. It was light enough
now for me to see her face clearly.
She was smiling. But a minute ago
she had been crying, for the tears
were still wet on her cheeks.
Perhaps she was dreaming of
Suddenly, watching her, I didn't
care if they laughed at me or lec-
tured me on my responsibilities to
the government as if I were a
senile fool. I was going to the space-
port. I was going to find out if,
somehow, we couldn't go back.
I got up and dressed and went
out, walking softly so as not to
awaken her. But even so she heard
me and called out to me.
I turned at the head of the stairs
and looked back into the room.
"Don't get up, Martha," I said.
"I'm going into town."
"All right, Lewis."
She relaxed, and a minute later
she was asleep again. I tiptoed
downstairs and out the front door
to where the trike car was parked,
and started for the village a mile
to the west.
It was desert all the way. Dry,
fine red sand that swirled upward
in choking clouds, if you stepped
off the pavement into it. The nar-
row road cut straight through it,
linking the outlying district farms
to the town. The farms themselves
were planted in the desert. Small,
glassed-in houses and barns, and
large greenhouses roofed with even
more glass, that sheltered the Earth
plants and gave them Earth air to
WHEN I came to the second
farmhouse John Emery hurried
out to meet me.
"Morning, Lewis," he said. "Go-
ing to town?"
I shut off the motor and nodded.
"I want to catch the early shuttle
plane to the spaceport," I said.
"I'm going to the city to buy some
things. . ."
I had to lie about it. I didn't
want anyone to know we were even
thinking of leaving, at least not un-
til we had our tickets in our hands.
"Oh," Emery said. "That's right.
I suppose you'll be buying Martha
an anniversary present."
I stared at him blankly. I
couldn't think what anniversary he
"You'll have been here thirty-
five years next week," he said.
"That's a long time, Lewis. . ."
Thirty-five years. It took me a
minute to realize what he meant.
He was right. That was how long
we had been here, in Martian years.
The others, those who had been
born here on Mars, always used the
Martian seasons. We had too, once.
But lately we forgot, and counted
in Earth time. It seemed more
"Wait a minute, Lewis," Emery
said. "I'll ride into the village with
you. There's plenty of time for you
to make your plane."
I went up on his veranda and sat
down and waited for him to get
ready. I leaned back in the swing
chair and rocked slowly back and
forth, wondering idly how many
times I'd sat here.
This was old Tom Emery's
house. Or had been, until he died
eight years ago. He'd built this
swing chair the very first year we'd
been on Mars.
Now it was young John's.
Young? That showed how old we
were getting. John was sixty-three,
in Earth years. He'd been born
that second winter, the month the
parasites got into the green-
houses. . .
He came back out onto the
veranda. "Well, I'm ready, Lewis,"
We went down to my trike car
and got in.
"You and Martha ought to get
out more," he said. "Jenny's been
asking me why you don't come to
call." ' •
I shrugged. I couldn't tell him ;
we seldom went out because when
we did we were always set apart
and treated carefully, like children.
He probably didn't even realize
that it was so.
"Oh," I said. "We like it at
He smiled. "I suppose you do,
after thirty-five years."
I started the motor quickly, and
from then on concentrated on my
driving. He didn't say anything
IT TOOK only a few minutes to
get to the village, but even so I
was tired. Lately it grew harder and
harder to drive, to keep the trike
car on the narrow strip of pave-
ment. I was glad when we pulled
up in the square and got out.
"I'll walk over to the plane with
you," Emery said. "I've got plenty
"By the way, Lewis, Jenny and I
and some of the neighbors thought
we'd drop over on your anniver-
"That's fine," I said, trying to
sound enthusiastic. "Come on
"It's a big event," he said. "De-
serves a celebration."
The shuttle plane was just land-
ing. I hurried over to the ticket win-
dow, with him right beside me.
"I just wanted to be sure you'd
be home," he said. "We wouldn't
want you to miss your own party."
"Party?" I said. "But John—"
He wouldn't even let me finish
"Now don't ask any questions,
Lewis. You wouldn't want to spoil
the surprise, would you?"
He chuckled. "Your plane's load-
ing now. You'd better be going.
Thanks for the ride, Lewis."
I went across to the plane and
got in. I hoped that somehow we
wouldn't have to spend that Mar-
tian anniversary being congratula-
ted and petted and babied. I didn't
think Martha could stand it. But
there wasn't any polite way to say
IT WASN'T a long trip to the
spaceport. In less than an hour
the plane dropped down to the air
strip that flanked the rocket field.
But it was like flying from one civi-
lization to another.
The city was big, almost like an
Earth city. There was lots of traffic,
cars and copters and planes. All the
bustle of the spaceways stations.
But although the city looked like
Earth, it smelled as dry and alka-
line as all the rest of Mars.
I found the ticket office easily
enough and went in. The young
clerk barely glanced up at me.
"Yes?" he said.
"I want to inquire about tickets
to Earth," I said.
My hands were sweating, and I
could feel my heart pounding too
fast against my ribs. But my voice
sounded casual, just the way I
wanted it to sound.
"Tickets?" the clerk said. "How
"Two. How much would they
cost? Everything included."
"Forty-two eighty," he said. His
voice was still bored. "I could give
them to you for the flight after
next. Tourist class, of course . . ."
We didn't have that much. We
were at least three hundred short.
"Isn't there any way," I said hesi-
tantly, "that I could get them for
less? I mean, we wouldn't need in-
surance, would we?"
He looked up at me for the first
time, startled. "You don't mean you
want them for yourself, do you?"
"Why yes. For me and my wife."
He shook his head. "I'm sorry,"
he said flatly. "But that would be
impossible in any case. You're too
He turned away from me and
bent over his desk work again.
The words hung in the air. Too
old . . . too old ... I clutched the
edge of the desk and steadied my-
self and forced down the panic I
could feel rising.
"Do you mean," I said slowly,
"that you wouldn't sell us tickets
even if we had the money?"
He glanced up again, obviously
annoyed at my persistence. "That's
right. No passengers over seventy
carried without special visas. Medi-
I just stood there. This couldn't
be happening. Not after all our
years of working and saving and
planning for the future. Not go
back Not even next year. Stay here,
because we were old and frail and
the ships wouldn't be bothered with
Martha. . . How could I tell her?
How could I say, "We can't go
home, Martha. They won't let us."
I couldn't say it. There had to be
some other way.
"Pardon me," I said to the clerk,
"but who should I see about get-
ting a visa?"
He swept the stack of papers
away with an impatient gesture and
frowned up at me.
"Over at the colonial office, I
suppose," he said. "But it won't do
you any good."
I could read in his eyes what he
thought of me. Of me and all the
other farmers who lived in the out-
lying districts and raised crops and
seldom came to the city. My clothes
were old and provincial and out of
style, and so was I, to him.
"I'll try it anyway," I said.
He started to say something, then
bit it back and looked away from
me again. I was keeping him from
his work. I was just a rude old man
interfering with the operation of
Slowly I iet go of the desk and
turned to leave. It was hard to
walk. My knees were trembling,
and my whole body shook. It was
all I could do not to cry. It angered
me, the quavering in my voice and
the weakness in my legs.
I went out into the hall and
looked for the directory that would
point the way to the colonial office.
It wasn't far off.
I walked out onto the edge of the
field and past the Earth rocket, its
silver nose pointed up at the sky. I
couldn't bear to look at it for longer
than a minute.
It was only a few hundred yards
to the colonial office, but it seemed
THIS OFFICE was larger than
the other, and much more com-
fortable. The man seated behind
the desk seemed friendlier too.
"May I help you?" he asked.
"Yes," I said slowly. "The man
at the ticket office told me to come
here. I wanted to see about getting
a permit to go back to Earth . . ."
His smile faded. "For yourself?"
"Yes," I said woodenly. "For my-
self and my wife."
"Well, Mr. . . ."
"Farwell. Lewis Farwell."
"My name's Duane. Please sit
down, won't you? . . . How old are
you, Mr. Farwell?"
"Eighty-seven," I said. "In Earth
He frowned. "The regulations
say no space travel for people past
seventy, except in certain special
cases . . ."
I looked down at my hands. They
were shaking badly. I knew he
could see them shake, and was
judging me as old and weak and
unable to stand the trip. He
couldn't know why I was trembling.
"Please," I whispered. "It
wouldn't matter if it hurt us. It's
just that we want to see Earth
again. It's been so long . . ."
"How long have you been here,
Mr. Farwell?" It was merely polite-
ness. There wasn't any promise in
"Sixty-five years." I looked up at
him. "Isn't there some way — "
"Sixty-five years? But that means
you must have come here on the
first colonizing ship."
"Yes," I said. "We did."
"I can't believe it," he said slow-
ly* "I can't believe I'm actually
looking at one of the pioneers." He
shook his head. "I didn't even know
any of them were still on Mars."
"We're the last ones," I said.
"That's the main reason we want
to go back. It's awfully hard stay-
ing on when your friends are dead."
DUANE got up and crossed the
room to the window and looked
out over the rocket field.
"But what good would it do to
go back, Mr. Farwell?" he asked.
"Earth has changed very much in
the last sixty-five years."
He was trying to soften the dis-
appointment. But nothing could. If
only I could make him realize that.
"I know it's changed," I said.
"But it's home. Don't you see?
We're Earthmen still. I guess that
never changes. And now that we're
old, we're aliens here."
"We're all aliens here, Mr. Far-
"No," I said desperately. "May-
be you are. Maybe a lot of the city
people are. But our neighbors were
born on Mars. To them Earth is a
legend. A place where their ances-
tors once lived. It's not real to
them. . . ."
He turned and crossed the room
and came back to me. His smile was
pitying. "If you went back," he
said, "you'd find you were a Mar-
I couldn't reach him. He was
friendly and pleasant and he was
trying to make things easier, and it
wasn't any use talking. I bent my
head and choked back the sobs I
could feel rising in my throat.
"You've lived a full life," Duane
said. "You were one of the pioneers.
I remember reading about your
ship when I was a boy, and wishing
I'd been born sooner so that I could
have been on it."
Slowly I raised my head and
looked up at him.
"Please," I said. "I know that.
I'm glad we came here. If we had
our lives to live over, we'd come
attain. We'd go through all the
hardships of those first few years,
and enjoy them just as much. We'd
be just as thrilled over proving that
it's possible to farm a world like
this, where it's always freezing and
the air is thin and nothing will grow
outside the greenhouses. You don't
need to tell me what we've done, or
what we've gotten out of it. We,
know. We've had a wonderful life
"But you still want to go back?"
"Yes," I said. "We still want to
go back. We're tired of living in the
past, with our friends dead and
nothing to do except remember."
He looked at me for a long mo-
ment. Then he said slowly, "You
realize, don't you, that if you went
back to Earth you'd have to stay
there? You couldn't return to
"I realize that," I said. "That's
what we want. We want to die at
home. On Earth."
FOR A LONG, long moment his
eyes never left mine. Then, slow-
ly, he sat down at his desk and
reached for a pen.
"All right, Mr. Farweli," he said.
"I'll give you a visa."
I couldn't believe it. I stared at
him, sure that I'd misunderstood.
"Sixty-five years . . ." He shook
his head. "I only hope I'm doing
the right thing. I hope you won't
"We won't," I whispered.
Then I remembered that we were
still short of money. That that was
why I'd come to the spaceport
originally. I was almost afraid to
mention it, for fear I'd lose every-
"Is there — is there some way we
could be excused from the insur-
ance?" I said. "So we could go back
this year? We're three hundred
He smiled. It was a very reassur-
ing smile. "You don't need to worry
about the money," he said. "The
colonial office can take care of that.
After all, we owe your generation a
great debt, Mr. Farweli. A passport
tax and the fare to Earth are little
enough to pay for a planet."
I didn't quite understand him,
but that didn't matter. The only
thing that mattered was that we
were going home. Back to Earth. I
could see Martha's face when I told
her. I could see her tears of happi-
There were tears on my own
cheeks, but I wasn't ashamed of
"Mr. Farweli," Duane said.
"You go back home. The shuttle
ship will be leaving in a few min-
"You mean that — " I started.
He nodded. "I'll get your tickets
for you. On the first ship I can. Just
leave it to me."
"It's too much trouble," I pro-
"No it's not." He smiled. "Be-
sides, I'd like to bring them out to
you. I'd like to see your farm, if I
Then I remembered what John
Emery had said this morning about
our anniversary. It would be a won-
derful celebration, now that there
was something to celebrate. We
could even save our announcement
that we were going home until
"Mr. Duane," I said. "Next
week, on the tenth, we'll have been
here thirty-five Martian years.
Maybe you'd like to come out then.
I guess our neighbors will be giving
us a sort of party."
He laid the pen down and looked
at me very intently. "They don't
know you're planning to leave yet,
"No. We'll wait and tell them
Duane nodded slowly. "I'll be
there," he promised.
MARTHA was out on the veran-
da again, looking down the
road toward the village. All after-
noon at least one of us had been out
there watching for our guests, wait-
ing for our anniversary celebration
"Do you see anyone yet?" I
"No," she said. "Not yet . . ."
I looked around the room hop-
ing I'd find something left undone
that I could work on, so I wouldn't
have to sit and worry about the
possibility of Duane's having for-
gotten us. But everything was ready.
The extra chairs were out and the
furniture all dusted, and Martha's
cakes and cookies arranged on the
I couldn't sit still. Not today. I
got up out of the chair and joined
her on the veranda.
"I wonder what their surprise
is . . ." she said. "Didn't John give
you any hint at all?"
"No," I said. "But whatever it is,
it can't be half as wonderful as
She reached for my hand.
"Lewis," she whispered. "I can
hardly believe it, can you?"
"No," I said. "But it's true. We're
I put my arm around her, and
she rested her head against me.
"I'm so happy, Lewis."
Her cheeks were full of color
once again, and her step had a
spring to it that I hadn't seen for
years. It was as if the years of wait-
ing were falling away from both of
"I wish they'd come," she said.
"I can hardly wait to see their faces
when we tell them."
It was getting late in the after-
noon. Already the sun was dipping
down toward the desert horizon. It
was hard to wait. In some ways it
was harder to be patient these last
few hours than it had been during
all those years we'd wanted to go
"Look," Martha said suddenly.
"There's a car now."
Then I saw the car too, coming
quickly toward us. It pulled up in
front of the house and stopped and
Duane stepped out.
"Well, hello there, Mr. Farwell,"
he called. "All ready for the trip?"
I nodded. Suddenly, now that he
was here, I couldn't say anything
He must have seen how excited
we were. By the time he was inside
the veranda door he'd reached into
his wallet and pulled out a long en-
"Here's your schedule," he said.
"Your tickets are all made out for
next week's flight."
Martha's hand crept into mine.
"You've been so kind," she whis-
WE WENT into the house and
smiled at each other while
Duane admired the furniture and
the farming district in general and
our place in particular. We hardly
heard what he was saying.
When the doorbell rang we
stared at each other. For a minute
I couldn't think who it might be.
I'd forgotten our guests and their
surprise party, even the anniversary
itself had slipped my mind.
"Hello in there," John Emery
called. "Come on out, you two."
Martha pressed my hand once
more. Then she stepped to the door
and opened it.
We stood frozen. We'd expected
only a few visitors, some of our
nearest neighbors. But the yard was
full of people. They crowded up
our walk and in the road and more
of them were still piling out of cars.
It looked as if everyone in the dis-
trict was along.
"Come on out," Emery called.
"You too, Duane."
The two men smiled at each
other knowingly, and for just a mo-
ment I had time to wonder why.
Then Martha clutched my arm.
"You tell him, Lewis."
"John," I said. "We have a sur-
prise for you too — "
He wouldn't let me finish. He
took hold of my arm with one hand
and Martha's with the other and
drew us outside where everyone
could see us.
"You can tell us later, Lewis," he
said. "First we have a surprise for
They crowded in around us,
laughing and waving and calling
"Happy anniversary". We couldn't
resist them. They swept us along
with them down the walk and into
one of the cars.
I looked around for Duane. He
was in the back seat, smiling some-
what nervously. Perhaps he thought
that this was normal farm life.
"Lewis," Martha said, "where
are they taking us?"
"I don't know . . ."
The cars started, ours leading the
way. It was a regular procession
back to the village, with everyone
laughing and calling to us and tell-
ing us how happy we were going to
be with our surprise. Every time
we tried to ask questions, John
"Just wait and see," he kept say-
ing. "Wait and see . . .'-*
AT THE END of the village
square they'd put up a platform.
It wasn't very big, nor very well
made, but it was strung with yards
of bunting and a huge sign that
said, "Happy Anniversary, Lewis
We were pushed toward it, car-
ried along by the swarm of people.
There wasn't any way to resist.
Martha clung to my arm, pressing
close against me. She was trembling
"What does it mean, Lewis?"
"I wish I knew."
They pushed us right up onto the
platform and John Emery followed
us up and held out his hand to quiet
the crowd. I put my arm around
Martha and looked down at them.
Hundreds of people. All in their
best clothes. Our friends's children
and grandchildren, and even great-
"I won't make a speech," John
Emery said when they were finally
quiet. "You know why we're here
today — all of you except Lewis and
Martha know. It's an anniversary.
A big anniversary. Thirty-five years
today since our fathers — and you
two — landed here on Mars . . ."
He paused. He didn't seem to
know what to say next. Finally he
turned and swept his arm past the
platform to where a big canvas-cov-
ered object stood on the ground.
"Unveil it," he said.
The crowd grew absolutely quiet.
A couple of boys stepped up and
pulled the canvas off.
"There's your surprise," John
Emery said softly.
It was a statue. A life-size statue
carved from the dull red stone of
Mars. Two figures, a man and a
woman, dressed in farm clothes,
standing side by side and looking
out across the square toward the
They were very real, those fig-
ures. Real, and somehow familiar.
"Lewis," Martha whispered.
She was right. It was a statue of
us. Neither old nor young, but age-
less. Two farmers, looking out for-
ever across the endless Martian des-
ert .. .
There was an inscription on the
base, but I couldn't quite make it
out. Martha could. She read it,
slowly, while everyone in the crowd
stood silent, listening.
"Lewis and Martha Farwell,"
she read. "The last of the pio-
neers — " Her voice broke. "Under-
neath," she whispered, "it says — the
first Martians. And then it lists
them — us . . ."
She read the list, all the names of
our friends who had come out on
that first ship. The names of men
and women who had died, one by
one, and left their farms to their
children — to the same children who
now crowded close about the plat-
form and listened to her read, and
smiled up at us.
She came to the end of the list
and looked out at the crowd.
"Thank you," she whispered.
They shouted then. They called
out to us and pressed forward and
held their babies up to see us.
I LOOKED out past the people,
across the flat red desert to the_
horizon, toward the spot in the east"
where the Earth would rise, much
later. The dry smell of Mars had
never been stronger.
The first Martians . . .
They were so real, those carved
figures. Lewis and Martha Far-
well . . .
"Look at them, Lewis," Martha
said softly. "They're cheering us.
She was smiling. There^ were
tears in her eyes, but her smile was
bright and proud and shining.
Slowly she turned away frc>m me
and straightened, staring otft over
the heads of the crowd across the
desert to the east. She stood with
her head thrown back arid her
mouth smiling, and she was as
proudly erect as the statue that was
"Martha," I whispered. "How
can we tell them goodbye?"
Then she turned to face me, and
I could see the tears glistening in
Ih-i t\*. "We can't leave, Lewis.
N i alter this."
>lic was right, of course. We
Miiildn't leave. We were symbols.
Tlic last of the pioneers. The first
Martians. And they had carved
their symbol in our image and
made us a part of Mars forever.
I glanced down, along the rows
of upturned, laughing faces, search-
ing for Duane. He was easy to find.
He was the only one who wasn't
shouting. His eyes met mine, and I
didn't have to say anything. He
knew. He climbed up beside me on
I tried to speak, but I couldn't.
"Tell him, Lewis," Martha whis-
pered. "Tell him we can't go."
Then she was crying. Her smile
was gone and her proud look was
gone and her hand crept into mine
and trembled there. I put my arm
around her shoulders, but there was
no way I could comfort her.
"Now we'll never go," she
sobbed. "We'll never get home . . ."
I don't think I had ever realized,
until that moment, just how much
it meant to her — getting home.
Much more, perhaps, than it had
ever meant to me.
The statues were only statues.
They were carved from the stone of
Mars. And Martha wanted Earth.
We both wanted Earth. Home . . .
I looked away from her then,
back to Duane. "No," I said.
"We're still going. Only — " I broke
off, hearing the shouting and the
cheers and the children's laughter.
"Only, how can we tell them?"
Duane smiled. "Don't try to, Mr.
Farwell," he said softly. "Just wait
He turned, nodded to where
John Emery still stood at the edge
of the platform. "All right, John."
Emery nodded too, and then he
raised his hand. As he did so, the
shouting stopped and the people
stood suddenly quiet, still looking
up at us.
"You all know that this is an
anniversary," John Emery said.
"And you all know something else
that Lewis and Martha thought
they'd kept as a surprise — that this
is more than an anniversary. It's
I stared at him. He knew. All of
them knew. And then I looked at
Duane and saw that he was smiling
more than ever.
"They've lived here on Mars for
thirty-five years," John Emery said.
"And now they're going back to :
Martha's hand tightened on
mine. "Look, Lewis," she cried.
"Look at them. They're not angry.
They're — they're happy for us!"
John Emery turned to face us.
"Surprised?" he said.
I nodded. Martha nodded too.
Behind him, the people cheered
"I thought you would be," Em-
ery said. Then, "I'm not very good
at speeches, but I just wanted you
to know how much we've enjoyed
being your neighbors. Don't forget
us when you get back to Earth."
IT WAS a long, long trip from
Mars to Earth. Three months
on the ship, thirty-five million
miles. A trip we had dreamed about
for so long, without any real hope
of ever making it. But now it was
over. We were back on Earth. Back
where we had started from.
"It's good to be alone, isn't it,
Lewis?" Martha leaned back in
her chair and smiled up at me.
I nodded. It did feel good to be
here in the apartment, just the two
of us, away from the crowds and
the speeches and the official wel-
comes and the flashbulbs popping.
"I wish they wouldn't make such
a fuss over us," she said. "I wish
they'd leave us alone."
"You can't blame them," I said,
although I couldn't help wishing
the same thing. "We're celebrities.
What was it that reporter said
about us? That we're part of his-
tory . . ."
She sighed. She turned away
from me and looked out the win-
dow again, past the buildings and
the lighted traffic ramps and the
throngs of people bustling by out-
side, people who couldn't see in
through the one-way glass, people
whom we couldn't hear because the
room was soundproofed.
"Mars should be up by now," she
"It probably is." I looked out
again, although I knew that we
would see nothing. No stars. No
planets. Not even the moon, except
as a pale half disc peering through
the haze. The lights from the city
were too bright. The air held the
light and reflected it down again,
and the sky was a deep, dark blue
with the buildings about us tower-
ing into it, outlined blackly against
it. And we couldn't sec the stars . . .
"Lewis," Martha said slowly. "I
never thought it would have
changed this much, did you?"
"No." I couldn't tell from her
voice whether she liked the changes
or not. Lately I couldn't tell much
of anything from her voice. And
nothing was the same as we had re-
Even the Earth farms were
mechanized now. Factory produc-
tion lines for food, as well as for
everything else. It was necessary, of
course. We had heard all the rea-
sons, all the theories, all the latest
"I guess I'll go to bed soon,"
Martha said. "I'm tired."
"It's the higher gravity." We'd
both been tired since we got back to
Earth. We had forgotten, over the
years, what Earth gravity was like.
She hesitated. She smiled at me,
but her eyes were worried. "Lewis
— are you really glad we came
It was the first time she had
asked me that. And there was only
one answer I could give her. The
one she expected.
"Of course, Martha . . ."
She sighed again. She got up out
of the chair and turned toward the
bedroom door, and then she paused
there by the window looking out at
the deep blue sky.
"Are you really glad, Lewis?"
Then I knew. Or, at least, I
hoped. "Why, Martha? Aren't
For one long minute she stood
beside me, looking up at the Mars
we couldn't see. And then she
turned to face me once again, and I
could see the tears.
"Oh, Lewis, I want to go home !"
Full circle. We had both come
full circle these last few hectic
weeks on Earth.
"So do I, Martha."
"Do you, Lewis?" And then the
lircdncss came back to her eyes and
she looked away again. "But of
course we can't."
Slowly I crossed over to the desk
and opened the top drawer and
took out the folder that Duane had
given me, that last day at the space-
port, just before our ship to Earth
had blasted off. Slowly I unfolded
the paper that Duane had told me
to keep in case we ever wanted it.
"Yes, we can, Martha. We can
"What's that, Lewis?" And then
she saw what it was. Her face came
alive again, and her eyes were shin-
ing. "We're going home?" she whis-
pered. "We're really going home?"
I looked down at the Earth-Mars
half of the round trip ticket that
Duane had given me, and I knew
that this time she was right.
This time we'd really be going
■ THE END -
(Continued from page 69)
But in the middle of his talk he
broke off suddenly. A flash of blind-
ing brilliance slashed through the
windows. Horror painted his face.
In a whisper, he cried: "No! No!
It would make it all so senseless!"
His eyes looked like the eyes of a
man with flaming splinters jammed
under his fingernails. His face
seemed to pucker, and grow infan-
tile. Then he screamed: "No!
Leave me alone! I told you I didn't
want to come out here, to be one
of you! Damn you, why did you
bring me out here? For — for
There were the shards of glass
from the great auditorium win-
dows, floating inward, turning lazi-
ly. There were the brick walls
crumbling, tumbling inward, scat-
tering through the air in the same
seeming slow motion. The dust
cloud and the sound, the flat blast-
sound, came after that, as the en-
tire building — perhaps the world —
disintegrated in the feye-searing
light . . .
December 8th, 1952, Two-Thirty
The flat of a rubber-gloved hand
striking flesh made a splatting
noise. A thin, breathless but con-
centrated crying followed. The doc-
tor looked down at his charity clinic
patient, the woman under the
bright delivery room lights.
"Look at him — fighting like a lit-
tle demon!" the doctor said.
"Seemed almost as though he
didn't want to come out and join
us . . . What's the matter, son? This
is a bright, new, wonderful world
to be born into . . . What are you
going to call the boy, Mrs. McKin-
The woman under the lights
forced a tired smile. "Jeff. Jefferson
McKinney. That's going to be his
name," she whispered proudly.
The baby's terrified squalling
subsided into fretful, whimpering
- THE END -
The atomic bomb meant, to most people, the end.
To Henry Bemis it meant something far different
— a thing to appreciate and enjoy.
Time Enough At Last
By Lynn VenaMe
FOR A LONG time, Henry
Bemis had had an ambition.
To read a book. Not just the title
or the preface, or a page some-
where in the middle. He wanted
to read the whole thing, all the way
through from beginning to end. A
simple ambition perhaps, but in the
cluttered life of Henry Bemis, an
Henry had no time of his own.
There was his wife, Agnes who
owned that part of it that his em-
ployer, Mr. Carsville, did not buy.
Henry was allowed enough to get to
and from work — that in itself being
quite a concession on Agnes' part.
Also, nature had conspired
against Henry by handing him with
a pair of hopelessly myopic eyes.
Poor Henry literally couldn't see his
hand in front of his face. For a
while, when he was very young, his
parents had thought him an idiot.
When they realized it was his eyes,
they got glasses for him. He was
never quite able to catch up. There
was never enough time. It looked
as though Henry's ambition would
never be realized. Then something
happened which changed all that.
Henry was down in the vault of
the Eastside Bank & Trust when it
happened. He had stolen a few
moments from the duties of his
teller's cage to try to read a few
pages of the magazine he had
bought that morning. He'd made
an excuse to Mr. Carsville about
needing bills in large denomina-
tions for a certain customer, and
then, safe inside the dim recesses of
the vault he had pulled from inside
his coat the pocket size magazine.
He had just started a picture ar-
ticle cheerfully entitled "The New
Weapons and What They'll Do To
YOU", when all the noise in the
world crashed in upon his ear-
drums. It seemed to be inside of
him and outside of him all at once.
Then the concrete floor was rising
up at him and the ceiling came
slanting down toward him, and for
a fleeting second Henry thought of
a story he had started to read once
called "The Pit and The Pendu-
lum". He regretted in that insane
moment that he had never had
time to finish that story to see how
it came out. Then all was darkness
and quiet and unconsciousness.
WHEN HENRY came to, he
knew that something was
desperately wrong with the East-
side Bank & Trust. The heavy steel
door of the vault was buckled and
twisted and the floor tilted up at a
dizzy angle, while the ceiling
dipped crazily toward it. Henry
gingerly got to his feet, moving
arms and legs experimentally. As-
sured that nothing was broken, he
tenderly raised a hand to his eyes.
His precious glasses were intact,
thank God! He would never have
been able to find his way out of the
shattered vault without them.
He made a mental note to write
Dr. Torrance to have a spare pair
made and mailed to him. Blasted
nuisance not having his prescrip-
tion on file locally, but Henry trust-
ed no-one but Dr. Torrance to
grind those thick lenses into his
own complicated prescription. Hen-
ry removed the heavy glasses from
his face. Instantly the room dis-
solved into a neutral blur. Henry
saw a pink splash that he knew was
his hand, and a white blob come up
to meet the pink as he withdrew his
pocket handkerchief and carefully
dusted the lenses. As he replaced
the glasses, they slipped down on
the bridge of his nose a little. He
had been meaning to have them
tightened for some time.
He suddenly realized, without
the realization actually entering his
conscious thoughts, that something
momentous had happened, some-
thing worse than the boiler blowing
up, something worse than a gas
main exploding, something worse
than anything that had ever hap-
pened before. He felt that way be-
cause it was so quiet. There was no
whine of sirens, no shouting, no
running, just an ominous and all
HENRY walked across the slant-
ing floor. Slipping and stum-
bling on the uneven surface, he
made his way to the elevator. The
car lay crumpled at the foot of the
shaft like a discarded accordian.
There was something inside of it
that Henry could not look at, some 1 -
thing that had once been a person,
or perhaps several people, it was
impossible to tell now.
Feeling sick, Henry staggered
toward the stairway. The steps were
still there, but so jumbled and piled
back upon one another that it was
more like climbing the side of a
mountain than mounting a stair-
way. It was quiet in the huge cham-
ber that had been the lobby of the
bank. It looked strangely cheerful
with the sunlight shining through
the girders where the ceiling had
fallen. The dappled sunlight glint-
ed across the silent lobby, and ev-
erywhere there were huddled lumps
of unpleasantness that made Henry
sick as he tried not to look at them.
"Mr. Carsville," he called. It was
very quiet. Something had to be
done, of course. This was terrible,
right in the middle of a Monday,
TIME ENOUGH AT LAST
too. Mr. Carsville would know
what to do. He called again, more
loudly, and his voice cracked
hoarsely, "Mr. Carrrrsville !" And
then he saw an arm and shoulder
extending out from under a huge
fallen block of marble ceiling. In
the buttonhole was the white carna-
tion Mr. Carsville had worn to
work that morning, and on the
third finger of that hand was a mas-
sive signet ring, also belonging to
Mr. Carsville. Numbly, Henry real-
ized that the rest of Mr. Carsville
was under that block of marble.
Henry felt a pang of real sorrow.
Mr. Carsville was gone, and so was
the rest of the staff — Mr. Wilkin-
son and Mr. Emory and Mr.
Prithard, and the same with Pete
and Ralph and Jenkins and Hunter
and Pat the guard and Willie the
doorman. There was no one to say
what was to be done about the
Eastside Bank & Trust except Hen-
ry Bemis, and Henry wasn't worried
about the bank, there was some-
thing he wanted to do.
He climbed carefully over piles
of fallen masonry. Once he stepped
down into something that crunched
and squashed beneath his feet and
he set his teeth on edge to keep
from retching. The street was not
much different from the inside,
bright sunlight and so much con-
crete to crawl over, but the unpleas-
antness was much, much worse.
Everywhere there were strange, mo-
tionless lumps that Henry could not
Suddenly, he remembered Agnes.
He should be trying to get to Ag-
nes, shouldn't he? He remembered
a poster he had seen that said, "In
event of emergency do not use the
telephone, your loved ones are as
safe as you." He wondered about
Agnes. He looked at the smashed
automobiles, some with their four
wheels pointing skyward like the
stiffened legs of dead animals. He
couldn't get to Agnes now anyway,
if she was safe, then, she was safe,
otherwise ... of course, Henry
knew Agnes wasn't safe. He had a
feeling that there wasn't anyone
safe for a long, long way, maybe
not in the whole state or the whole
country, or the whole world. No,
that was a thought Henry didn't
want to think, he forced it from his
mind and turned his thoughts back
SHE HAD been a pretty good
wife, now that it was all said
and done. It wasn't exactly her
fault if people didn't have time to
read nowadays. It was just that
there was the house, and the bank,
and the yard. There were the Jones'
for bridge and the Graysons' for ca-
nasta and charades with the
Bryants. And the television, the
television Agnes loved to watch, but
would never watch alone. He never
had time to read even a newspaper.
He started thinking about last
night, that business about the news-
Henry had settled into his chair,
quietly, afraid that a creaking
spring might call to Agnes' atten-
tion the fact that he was momen-
tarily unoccupied. He had unfold-
ed the newspaper slowly and care-
fully, the sharp crackle of the paper
would have been a clarion call to
Agnes. He had glanced at the head-
lines of the first page. "Collapse Of
(', .nfrrrncc Imminent." He didn't
li.tw time to read the article. He
turned to the second page. "Solon
Predicts War Only Days Away."
He flipped through the pages faster,
reading brief snatches here and
there, afraid to spend too much
time on any one item. On a back
page was a brief article entitled,
"Prehistoric Artifacts Unearthed In
Yucatan". Henry smiled to himself
and carefully folded the sheet of
paper into fourths. That would be
interesting, he would read all of it.
Then it came, Agnes' voice. "Hen-
rrreeef" And then she was upon
him. She lightly flicked the paper
out of his hands and into the fire-
place. He saw the flames lick up
and curl possessively around the
unread article. Agnes continued,
"Henry, tonight is the Jones' bridge
night. They'll be here in thirty min-
utes and I'm not dressed yet, and
here you are . . . reading." She had
emphasized the last word as though
it were an unclean act. "Hurry and
shave, you know how smooth Jasper
Jones' chin always looks, and then
straighten up this room." She
glanced regretfully toward the fire-
place. "Oh dear, that paper, the
television schedule ... oh well, after
the Jones leave there won't be time
for anything but the late-late
movie and . . . Don't just sit there,
Henry was hurrying now, but
hurrying too much. He cut his leg
on a twisted piece of metal that had
nine lieen an automobile fender.
He tln>ii!;ht about things like lock-
jaw and gangrene and his hand
trembled as he tied his pocket-
handkerchief around the wound. In
his mind, he saw the fire again,
licking across the face of last night's
newspaper. He thought that now
he would have time to read all the
newspapers he wanted to, only now
there wouldn't be any more. That
heap of rubble across the street had
been the Gazette Building. It was
terrible to think there would never
be another up to date newspaper.
Agnes would have been very upset,
no television schedule. But then, of
course, no television. He wanted to
laugh but he didn't. That wouldn't
have been fitting, not at all.
He could see the building he was
looking for now, but the silhouette
was strangely changed. The great
circular dome was now a ragged
semi-circle, half of it gone, and one
of the great wings of the building
had fallen in upon itself. A sudden
panic gripped Henry Bemis. What
if they were all ruined, destroyed,
every one of them? What if there
wasn't a single one left? Tears of
helplessness welled in his eyes as he
painfully fought his way over and
through the twisted fragments of
|TE THOUGHT of the building
H. when it had been whole. He re-
membered the many nights he had
paused outside its wide and wel-
coming doors. He thought of the
warm nights when the doors had
been thrown open and he could see
the people inside, see them sitting
at the plain wooden tables with the
stacks of books beside them. He
used to think then, what a wonder-
ful thing a public library was, a
place where anybody, anybody at
all could go in and read.
He had been tempted to enter
TIME ENOUGH AT LAST
many times. He had watched the
people through the open doors, the
man in greasy work clothes who
sat near the door, night after night,
laboriously studying, a technical
journal perhaps, difficult for him,
but promising a brighter future.
There had been an aged, scholarly
gentleman who sat on the other side
of the door, leisurely paging, mov-
ing his lips a little as he did so, a
man having little time left, but rich
in time because he could do with it
as he chose.
Henry had never gone in. He had
started up the steps once, got al-
most to the door, but then he re-
membered Agnes, her questions and
shouting, and he had turned away.
He was going in now though, al-
most crawling, his breath coming
in stabbing gasps, his hands torn
and bleeding. His trouser leg was
sticky red where the wound in his
leg had soaked through the hand-
kerchief. It was throbbing badly
but Henry didn't care. He had
reached his destination.
Part of the inscription was still
there, over the now doorless en-
trance. P-U-B-C L-I-B-R— . The
rest had been torn away. The place
was in shambles. The shelves were
overturned, broken, smashed, tilted,
their precious contents spilled in
disorder upon the floor. A lot of the
books, Henry noted gleefully, were
still intact, still whole, still read-
able. He was literally knee deep in
them, he wallowed in books. He
picked one up. The title was "Col-
lected Works of William Shake-
speare." Yes, he must read that,
sometime. He laid it aside carefully.
He picked up another. Spinoza. He
tossed it away, seized another, and
another, and still another. Which
to read first . . . there were so many.
He had been conducting himself
a little like a starving man in a deli-
catessen — grabbing a little of this
and a little of that in a frenzy of
But now he steadied away. From
the pile about him, he selected one
volume, sat comfortably down on
an overturned shelf, and opened
Henry Bemis smiled.
There was the rumble of com-
plaining stone. Minute in compari-
son which the epic complaints fol-
lowing the fall of the bomb. This
one occurred under one corner of
the shelf upon which Henry sat.
The shelf moved; threw him off
balance. The glasses slipped from
his nose and fell with a tinkle.
He bent down, clawing blindly
and found, finally, their smashed
remains. A minor, indirect destruc-
tion stemming from the sudden,
wholesale smashing of a city. But
the only one that greatly interested
He stared down at the blurred
page before him.
He began to cry.
Personalities in Science
ACCORDING to Einstein, the
history of physical science, has
brought forth four' great scientists
■ — Galileo, Newton, Maxwell and
Faraday — and Einstein is a man
who should know.
Of these, Galileo and Newton are
probably the most famous. Perhaps
Maxwell wielded the most, influ-
ence in his own time. But in the
realm of things physical for the
benefit of posterity, Faraday was by
far the greatest.
Faraday was born in London in
the year 1791 — long before General
Electric and Westinghouse began
gleaning likely young men from col-
leges and placing them in shiny
laboratories. His father was a black-
smith, who became an invalid and
died in Michael's youth leaving the
boy's mother with no alternative
but to take in boarders for the sup-
port of her family.
They were deeply religious peo-
ple, sober-minded and hardworking
—traits which remained ingrained
in Faraday until his death. He be-
gan showing his talents quite early
when, by chance, he was thrown
into contact with books. This came
about in his thirteenth year when
he got work in the rooms of one
Masquerier, a French refugee flee-
ing the wrath of Napoleon. Fara-
day's jobs were to keep Mas-
querier' s shoes shined and his rooms
orderly. This gave the youth an op-
portunity to browse through the
Frenchman's library. He practically
memorized two encyclopedias on
electricity and digested Marcet's
Conversations on Chemistry in
Now, young Faraday begged and
borrowed, from his elder brother,
the necessary admission fees to at-
tend scientific lectures where ever
and whenever he could find them.
His activities are remindful of the
present day teen-age fan who idol-
izes a current glamour personality,
forms fan clubs and whatnot.
Faraday formed no clubs, but he
was not backward in contacting his
idols. He wrote a letter to no less
an august personage than Sir
Joseph Banks, the President of the
Royal Society. Sir Joseph neglected
to answer, but that is of no great
importance. Later, he would have
been glad to visit Faraday in per-
Young Faraday's persistence
payed off, however, when he at-
tended a lecture by the great Sir
PERSONALITIES IN SCIENCE
Humphry Davy — with a pencil and
a ream or two of notepaper under
his arm. He took notes on Davy's
lecture — 386 pages of them. These,
he had delivered to Davy along
with a note stating that he, Fara-
day, wished to devote his life to
science, and could Davy be of any
assistance in the project.
Davy, one of the most eccentric
geniuses who ever lived, was also a
warm human being. Davy replied
to Faraday in the formal, stilted
manner of the day:
I am far from displeased with the
proof you have given me of your
confidence, and which displays
great zeal, power of memory, and
attention. I am obliged to go out of
town, and will not be settled in
town until the end of January. I
will then see you at any time you
It would gratify me to be of any
service to you. I wish it may be in
I am, sir, your obedient, humble
This was not at all unlike a
science fiction fan getting an invita-
tion to drop around from Ray
Bradbury or Robert Heinlein. You
may rest assured that Faraday took
full advantage of it.
Davy could be of assistance, to
the extent of getting Faraday a job
as assistant in the laboratory of the
Royal Institution. Thus did Davy,
unknowingly, render his greatest
service to humanity .
So, at the age of twenty-one,
Faraday became established at the
Institution and Davy, no doubt de-
lighted that his casual favor to a
letter-writing youth had paid off in
such rich material, took Faraday
on a tour of Europe — a grand tour,
as Davy, the big name in the scien-
tific fields of his time, did not travel
without notice. Upon returning to
England, Faraday became a lec-
turer in the Royal Institution, and
was launched upon his life work.
THE SCIENTISTS of the time
were engrossed in the mysteries
of electricity. Faraday's keen mind
cut like a knife into these mysteries.
He suspected the close relationship
between electricity and magnetism.
None of the active scientists of the
time had paid much attention to
this avenue of research, although
Orsted, the brilliant Swede, had
experimented in that direction.
Orsted was the first to suggest
that motion should be obtainable
from the interaction of magnetism
and electricity. Faraday drove re-
lentlessly along these avenues, ex-
perimenting exhaustively, building
upon the work of both Orsted and
Ampere. Writing of his own work,
Faraday said :
" . . . so all the usual attractions
and repulsions of the magnetic
needle by the conjunctive wire are
deceptions, the motions being not
attractions nor repulsions . . . but
the result of a force in the wire
which, instead of bringing the pole
of the needle nearer to, or further
from the wire, endeavors to make it
move around it in a never ending
circle and motion while the battery
remains in action."
PERSONALITIES IN SCIENCE
From this statement of his obser-
vational results, Faraday invented
the electric motor and established
But all was not sweetness and
light. Faraday's sense of personal
triumph was dulled by a reversal
upon the part of Humphry Davy.
The trouble sprang from Faraday's
inadvertent conflict with the work
of Davy and Wollaston. Both these
scientists were plodding along over
the route Faraday covered with a
speed which bespoke his genius.
When Faraday's name was pro-
posed for membership in the Royal
Society it was — ironically enough —
Sir Humphry Davy who asked Far-
aday to withdraw. Faraday replied
that it was beyond his power to
withdraw, which was true, but
Davy, as President of the august
organization, had all the power he
needed to block Faraday.
However, in the year 1824, Fara-
day was elected to the Society and
stood at last, on par in all respects,
with all the greats of his time.
He was fated to clash again with
Davy, over the liquefaction of
chlorine. Davy had discovered, be-
yond doubt, the knowledge that
the solid substance obtained by ex-
posing chlorine to low temperatures
was not chlorine, but a combination
of elements in which chlorine was
no longer alone. Davy had not ana-
lyzed this combination however,
and Faraday did. Also, he followed
Davy's suggestion that heat, applied
to the specimens, might bring in-
Faraday applied the heat and
tame up with liquid chlorine. He
then wrote a paper upon the experi-
ment and the discovery — a paper
which passed through Davy's hands
as President of the Society. Davy
blandly appended a few para-
graphs, taking full credit for the
Faraday said nothing, biding his
time. Later he wrote an account of
all the investigators who had lique-
fied chlorine before either himself
All semblance of cordiality be-
tween Davy and Faraday now rup-
tured completely. Hard times fell
upon the Society, and Faraday be-
came occupied with the necessity of
struggling along upon less money
than previously. But this did not
slow down his productivity.
His papers on chemical investi-
gations poured out in a broad
stream. During the decade follow-
ing 1820, when he made his great
discovery relative to electro-mag-
netism, Faraday published little
upon electricity, but his experi-
ments went on. He made copious
notes for current and future experi-
ence, indicating that while he con-
centrated upon chemical research,
his heart had been given to the
elusive witch of invisible power
who mocked scientific brains with
He began exhaustive investiga-
tions into the possibility of convert-
ing magnetism into electricity. The
epochal discovery of electro-mag-
netic induction was the result. This
discovery served as a pivotal point
in scientific progress.
This could have been enough for
any man, but like a great scientist
who came later, Thomas Alva Edi-
son, Faraday felt a man's produc-
tivity should be terminated only by
(Continued on page 110)
In order to make Izaak Walton's sport complete,
there must be an angler, a fish, and some bait.
All three existed on Arz but there was a question as
to which was which.
The Anglers of Arz
By Roger Dee
Illustrated by BOB MARTIN
THE THIRD night of the
Marco Four's landfall on the
moonless Altarian planet was a
repetition of the two before it, a
nine-hour intermission of drowsy,
pastoral peace. Navigator Arthur
Farrell — it was his turn to stand
watch — was sitting at an open-side
port with a magnoscanner ready;
but in spite of his vigilance he had
not exposed a film when the in-
evitable pre-dawn rainbow began
to shimmer over the eastern ocean.
Sunrise brought him alert with a
jerk, frowning at sight of two
pinkish, bipedal Arzian fishermen
posted on the tiny coral islet a
quarter-mile offshore, their blank
triangular faces turned stolidly to-
ward the beach.
"They're at it again," Farrell
called, and dropped to the mossy
turf outside. "Roll out on the dou-
ble! I'm going to magnofilm this!"
Stryker and Gibson came out of
their sleeping cubicles reluctantly,
belting on the loose shorts which all
three wore in the balmy Arzian
climate. Stryker blinked and
yawned as he let himself through
the port, his fringe of white hair
tousled and his naked paunch
sweating. He looked, Farrell
thought for the thousandth time,
more like a retired cook than like
the veteran commander of a Ter-
ran Colonies expedition.
Gibson followed, stretching his
powerfully-muscled body like a
wrestler to throw off the effects of
sleep. Gibson was linguist-ethnolo-
gist of the crew, a blocky man in his
early thirties with thick black hair
and heavy brows that shaded a
square, humorless face.
"Any sign of the squids yet?" he
"They won't show up until the
dragons come," Farrell said. He ad-
justed the light filter of the mag-
noscanner and scowled at Stryker.
"Lee, I wish you'd let me break up
the show this time with a dis-beam.
This butchery gets on my nerves."
Stryker shielded his eyes with his
hands against the glare of sun on
water. "You know I can't do that,
Arthur. These Arzians may turn out
to be Fifth Order beings or higher,
and under Terran Regulations our
tampering with what may be a
basic culture-pattern would amount
to armed invasion. We'll have to
crack that cackle-and-grunt lan-
guage of theirs and learn something
of their mores before we can inter-
Farrell turned an irritable stare
on the incurious group of Arzians
gathering, nets and fishing spears
in hand, at the edge of the shelter-
ing bramble forest.
"What stumps me is their mo-
tivation," he said. "Why do the
fools go out to that islet every night,
when they must know damned well
what will happen next morning?"
Gibson answered him with an
older problem, his square face puz-
zled. "For that matter, what became
of the city I saw when we came in
through the stratosphere? It must
be a tremendous thing, yet we've
searched the entire globe in the
scouter and found nothing but
water and a scattering of little
islands like this one, all covered
with bramble. It wasn't a city these
pink fishers could have built, either.
The architecture was beyond them
by a million years."
STRYKER and Farrell traded
baffled looks. The city had be-
come something of a fixation with
Gibson, and his dogged insistence —
coupled with an irritating habit of
being right — had worn their pa-
"There never was a city here,
Gib," Stryker said. "You dozed off
while we were making planetfall,
Gibson stiffened resentfully, but
Farrell's voice cut his protest short.
"Get set! Here they come!"
Out of the morning rainbow
dropped a swarm of winged lizards,
twenty feet in length and a glisten-
ing chlorophyll green in the early
light. They stooped like hawks upon
the islet offshore, burying the two
Arzian fishers instantly under their
snapping, threshing bodies. Then
around the outcrop the sea boiled
whitely, churned to foam by a sud-
den uprushing of black, octopoid
"The squids," Stryker grunted.
"Right on schedule. Two seconds
too late, as usual, to stop the slaugh-
A barrage of barbed tentacles
lashed out of the foam and drove
into the melee of winged lizards.
The lizards took the air at once,
leaving behind three of their num-
ber who disappeared under the
surface like harpooned seals. No
trace remained of the two Arzian
"A neat example of dog eat dog,"
Farrell said, snapping off the mag-
noscanner. "Do any of those beau-
ties look like city-builders, Gib?"
Chattering pink natives straggled
past from the shelter of the thorn
forest, ignoring the Earthmen, and
lined the casting ledges along the
beach to begin their day's fishing.
"Nothing we've seen yet could
There were two pinkish, bipedal fishermen on the tiny islet.
h.ive built that city," Gibson said
siu!)bornly. "But it's here some-
where, and I'm going to find it.
Will either of you be using the
Stryker threw up his hands. "I've
a mountain of data to collate, and
Arthur is off duty after standing
watch last night. Help yourself, but
you won't find anything."
The scouter was a speeding dot
on the horizon when Farrell crawled
into his sleeping cubicle a short
time later, leaving Stryker to mutter
over his litter of notes. Sleep did
not come to him at once; a vague
sense of something overlooked
prodded irritatingly at the back of
his consciousness, but it was not
until drowsiness had finally over-
taken him that the discrepancy as-
sumed definite form.
He recalled then that on the first
day of the Marco's planetfall one
of the pink fishers had fallen from
a casting ledge into the water, and
had all but drowned before his fel-
lows pulled him out with extended
spear-shafts. Which meant that the
fishers could not swim, else some
would surely have gone in after
And the Marco's crew had ex-
plored Arz exhaustively without
finding any slightest trace of boats
or of boat landings. The train of as-
sociation completed itself with auto-
matic logic, almost rousing Farrell
out of his doze.
"I'll be damned," he muttered.
"No boats, and they don't swim.
Tiirn how the devil do they get out
tn thai islet?"
He fell asleep with the paradox
STRYKER was still humped
over his records when Farrell
came out of his cubicle and broke a
packaged meal from the food
locker. The visicom over the control
board hummed softly, its screen
blank on open channel.
"Gibson found his lost city yet?"
Farrell asked, and grinned when
"He's scouring the daylight side
now," Stryker said. "Arthur, I'm
going to ground Gib tomorrow,
much as I dislike giving him a direct
order. He's got that phantom city
on the brain, and he lacks the
imagination to understand how
dangerous to our assignment an ob-
session of that sort can be."
Farrell shrugged. "I'd agree with
you offhand if it weren't for Gib's
bullheaded habit of being right. I
hope he finds it soon, if it's here. I'll
probably be standing his watch un-
til he's satisfied."
Stryker looked relieved. "Would
you mind taking it tonight? I'm
completely bushed after today's log-
Farrell waved a hand and took
up his magnoscanner. It was dark
outside already, the close, soft night
of a moonless tropical world whose
moist atmosphere absorbed even
starlight. He dragged a chair to the
open port and packed his pipe, set-
tling himself comfortably while
Stryker mixed a nightcap before
Later he remembered that Stryk-
er dissolved a tablet in his glass,
but at the moment it meant noth-
ing. In a matter of minutes the
older man's snoring drifted to him,
a sound faintly irritating against
the velvety hush outside.
THE ANGLERS OF ARZ
Farrell lit his pipe and turned to
the inconsistencies he had uncov-
ered. The Arzians did not swim,
and without boats . . .
It occurred to him then that
there had been two of the pink
fishers on the islet each morning,
and the coincidence made him sit
up suddenly, startled. Why two?
Why not three or four, or only one?
He stepped out through the open
lock and paced restlessly up and
down on the springy turf, feeling
the ocean breeze soft on his face.
Three days of dull routine logwork
had built up a need for physical
action that chafed his temper; he
was intrigued and at the same time
annoyed by the enigmatic relation
that linked the Arzian fishers to the
dragons and squids, and his desire
to understand that relation was ag-
gravated by the knowledge that Arz
could be a perfect world for Terran
colonization. That is, he thought
wryly, if Terran colonists could
stomach the weird custom pursued
by its natives of committing suicide
He went over again the improb-
able drama of the past three morn-
ings, and found it not too unnatural
until he came to the motivation and
the means of transportation that
placed the Arzians in pairs on the
islet, when his whole fabric of
speculation fell into a tangled snarl
of inconsistencies. He gave it up
finally; how could any Earthman
rationalize the outlandish compul-
sions that actuated so alien a race?
He went inside again, and the
sound of Stryker's muffled snoring
fanned his restlessness. He made his
decision abruptly, laying aside the
magnoscanner for a hand-flash and
a pocket-sized audicom unit which
he clipped to the belt of his shorts.
He did not choose a weapon be-
cause he saw no need for one. The
torch would show him how the na-
tives reached the outcrop, and if he
should need help the audicom
would summon Stryker. Investigat-
ing without Stryker's sanction was,
strictly speaking, a breach of Ter-
ran Regulations, but —
"Damn Terran Regulations," he
muttered. "I've got to know."
Farrell snapped on the torch at
the edge of the thorn forest and en-
tered briskly, eager for action now
that he had begun. Just inside the
edge of the bramble he came upon
a pair of Arzians curled up together
on the mossy ground, sleeping
soundly, their triangular faces
wholly blank and unrevealing.
He worked deeper into the un-
derbrush and found other sleeping
couples, but nothing else. There
were no humming insects, no twit-
tering night-birds or scurrying ro-
dents. He had worked his way close
to the center of the island without
further discovery and was on the
point of turning back, disgusted,
when something bulky and power-
ful seized him from behind.
A sharp sting burned his shoul-
der, wasp-like, and a sudden over-
whelming lassitude swept him into
a darkness deeper than the Arzian
night. His last conscious thought
was not of his own danger, but of
Stryker — asleep and unprotected
behind the Marco's open port. . • .
HE WAS standing erect when
he woke, his back to the open
sea and a prismatic glimmer of
' iil>. <! iwn rainbow shining on the
v, .in i hi lore him. For a moment he
was totally disoriented; then from
flu- corner of an eye he caught the
pinkish blur of an Arzian fisher
standing beside him, and cried out
hoarsely in sudden panic when he
1 1 nd to turn his head and could not.
He was on the coral outcropping
offshore, and except for the in-
voluntary muscles of balance and
respiration his body was paralyzed.
The first red glow of sunrise
blurred the reflected rainbow at his
feet, but for some seconds his shut-
tling mind was too busy to consider
the danger of predicament. What-
ever brought me here anesthetized
me first, he thought. That sting in
my shoulder was like a hypo needle.
Panic seized him again when he
remembered the green flying-
lizards; more seconds passed before
he gained control of himself, sweat-
ing with the effort. He had to get
help. If he could switch on the au-
dicom at his belt and call
Stryker . . .
He bent every ounce of his will
toward raising his right hand, and
His arm was like a limb of lead,
its inertia too great to budge. He re-
laxed the effort with a groan, sweat-
ing again when he saw a fiery half-
disk of sun on the water, edges
blurred and distorted by tiny sur-
On shore he could see the Marco
Four resting between thorn forest
and beach, its silvered sides glisten-
ing with dew. The port was still
open, and the empty carrier rack
in the bow told him that Gibson
had not yet returned with the
He grew aware then that sensa-
tion was returning to him slowly,
that the cold surface of the audicom
unit at his hip — unfelt before — was
pressing against the inner curve of
his elbow. He bent his will again
toward motion; this time the arm
tensed a little, enough to send hope
flaring through him. If he could put
pressure enough against the stud . . .
The tiny click of its engaging
sent him faint with relief.
"Stryker!" he yelled. "Lee, roll
out — Stryker!"
The audicom hummed gently,
He gathered himself for another
shout, and recalled with a chill of
horror the tablet Stryker had mixed
into his nightcap the night before.
Worn out by his work, Stryker had
made certain that he would not be
The flattened sun-disk on the
water brightened and grew round-
er. Above its reflected glare he
caught a flicker of movement, a
restless suggestioa of flapping
HE TRIED again. "Stryker,
help me! I'm on the islet!"
The audicom crackled. The voice
that answered was not Stryker's, but
"Farrell! What the devil are you
doing on that butcher's block?"
Farrell fought down an insane
desire to laugh. "Never mind that —
get here fast, Gib! The flying-
lizards — "
He broke off, seeing for the first
time the octopods that ringed the
outcrop just under the surface of \
the water, waiting with barbed ten- |
THE ANGLERS OF ARZ
tacles spread and yellow eyes study-
ing him glassily. He heard the un-
mistakable flapping of wings be-
hind and above him then, and
thought with shock-born lucidity:
I wanted a backstage look at this
show, and now I'm one of the cast.
The scouter roared in from the
west across the thorn forest, flash-
ing so close above his head that he
felt the wind of its passage. Almost
instantly he heard the shrilling blast
of its emergency bow jets as Gibson
met the lizard swarm head on.
Gibson's voice came tinnily from
the audicom. "Scattered them for
the moment, Arthur — blinded the
whole crew with the exhaust, I
think. Stand fast, now. I'm going
to pick you up."
The scouter settled on the out-
crop beside Farrell, so close that the
hot wash of its exhaust gases
scorched his bare legs. Gibson put
out thick brown arms and hauled
him inside like a straw man, ig-
noring the native. The scouter
darted for shore with Farrell lying
across Gibson's knees in the cock-
pit, his head hanging half overside.
Farrell had a last dizzy glimpse of
the islet against the rush of green
water below, and felt his shaky
laugh of relief stick in his throat.
Two of the octopods were swim-
ming strongly for shore, holding the
rigid Arzian native carefully above
water between them.
"Gib," Farrell croaked. "Gib,
can you risk a look back? I think
I've gone mad."
The scouter swerved briefly as
Gibson looked back. "You're all
right, Arthur. Just hang on tight.
I'll explain everything when we get
you safe in the Marco."
Farrell forced himself to relax,
more relieved than alarmed by the
painful pricking of returning sen-
sation. "I might have known it,
damn you," he said. "You found
your lost city, didn't you?"
Gibson sounded a little disgusted,
as if he were still angry with himself
over some private stupidity. "I'd
have found it sooner if I'd had any
brains. It was under water, of
IN THE Marco Four, Gibson
routed Stryker out of his cubicle
and mixed drinks around, leaving
Farrell comfortably relaxed in the
padded control chair. The paralysis
was still wearing off slowly, easing
Farrell's fear of being permanently
"We never saw the city from the
scouter because we didn't go high
enough," Gibson said. "I realized
that finally, remembering how they
used high-altitude blimps during
the First Wars to spot submarines,
and when I took the scouter up far
enough there it was, at the ocean
bottom — a city to compare with
anything men ever built."
Stryker stared. "A marine city?
What use would sea-creatures have
"None," Gibson said. "I think
the city must have been built ages
ago — by men or by a manlike race,
judging from the architecture — and
was submerged later by a sinking of
land masses that killed off the orig-
inal builders and left Arz nothing
but an oversized archipelago. The
squids took over then, and from all
appearances they've developed a
culture of their own."
"I don't see it," Stryker com-
plained, shaking his head. "The
pink fishers — "
"Are cattle, or less," Gibson fin-
ished. "The octopods are the domi-
nant race, and they're so far above
Fifth Order that we're completely
out of bounds here. Under Terran
Regulations we can't colonize Arz.
It would be armed invasion."
"Invasion of a squid world?"
Farrell protested, baffled. "Why
should surface colonization conflict
with an undersea culture, Gib?
Why couldn't we share the planet?"
"Because the octopods own the
islands too, and keep them policed,"
Gibson said patiently. "They even
own the pink fishers. It was one of
the squid-people, making a dry-
land canvass of his preserve here
to pick a couple of victims for this
morning's show, that carried you
off last night."
"Behold a familiar pattern shap-
ing up," Stryker said. He laughed
suddenly, a great irrepressible bel-
low of sound. "Arz is a squid's
world, Arthur, don't you see? And
like most civilized peoples, they're
sportsmen. The flying-lizards are
the game they hunt, and they raise
the pink fishers for — "
Farrell swore in astonishment.
"Then those poor devils are put
out there deliberately, like worms
on a hook — angling in reverse! No
wonder I couldn't spot their mo-
Gibson got up and sealed the
port, shutting out the soft morning
breeze. "Colonization being out of
the question, we may as well move
on before the octopods get curious
enough about us to make trouble.
Do you feel up to the acceleration,
Farrell and Stryker looked at
each other, grinning. Farrell said:
"You don't think I want to stick
here and be used for bait again,
He and Stryker were still grin-
ning over it when Gibson, un-
amused, blasted the Marco Four
free of Arz.
- THE END •
PERSONALITIES IN SCIENCE
(Continued from page 102)
death. He drove on and on with the
heroic patience, triumphs, and dis-
appointments which are the every-
day lot of the inquiring mind.
Nor was he cut off early, as were
so many of his brilliant con-
temporaries. He died quietly, at the
age of seventy-five years, leaving
behind a heritage for which the
world will be forever grateful.
No conceivable force could penetrate
Terri' s shield. Yet he was defenseless.
By Gordon R. Dickson
T WAS A nice little party, but
a bit obvious. Terri Mac saw
through it before he had taken half
a dozen steps into the apartment. A
light flush staining his high cheek-
bones. "This is ridiculous," he said.
The light chatter ceased. Cock-
tail glasses were set down on vari-
ous handy tables and ledges; and
all faces in the room turned toward
a man in his late fifties who sat
propped up invalid-wise on pillows
in a chair in a corner of the room.
"The Comptroller is perspica-
cious," said the old man, agree-
ably, waving one hand in a casual
manner. "On your way, children."
And the people present smiled
and nodded. Quite as if it were an
ordinary leave-taking, they pushed
past Terri Mac and filed out the
door. Even the blonde, Terri had
picked up at the embassy ball and
who had brought him here, strolled
off casually, but in a decidedly less
drunken fashion than she had ex-
hibited earlier in the evening.
"Sit down," said the old man.
Terri Mac did so, gazing searching-
ly at the skinny frame and white
eyebrows in an unsuccessful effort
to connect him with something in
memory. "This is ridiculous," he
"Really?" The old man smiled
benignly. "And why so?"
"Why — " the situation was so
obvious that Terri fumbled — a little
at a loss for words. "Obviously you
intend some form of coercion, or
else you would have come to me
along recognized channels. And any
thought of coercion is obviously —
"Why? You senile old fool, don't
you know that I'm shielded? Don't
you know all government officials
from the fifth class up wear com-
plete personal shields that are not
only crack -proof but contain all
the necessary elements to support
GORDON R. DICKSON
life independently within the shield
for more than twenty hours? Don't
you know that I'll be missed in two
hours at the most and tracked down
in less than sixty minutes more?
Are you crazy?"
The old man chuckled, rubbing
dry hands together. He said. "I'm
shielded too. You can't get at me.
And now the room's shielded. You
can't get out of it."
Terri stared at him. The initial
shock was passing. His own state-
ments anent the completeness of his
protection had brought back confi-
dence, and his natural coolness was
returning. "What do you want?" he
asked, eyeing the other narrowly.
"Pleasure of your company,"
said the old man. "There are some
very strong connections between us.
Yes, very strong. We must get to
know each other personally."
IT OCCURRED to Terri that he
had misinterpreted the situation.
Relief came, mixed with a certain
amount of chagrin at the way in
which he allowed himself to show
alarm. He had looked ridiculous.
He leaned back in the chair and
allowed a note of official hauteur
and annoyance to creep into his
voice. "I see," he said. "You want
The old man nodded energeti-
"I do. Indeed I do."
"And you think you have some
kind of a bargaining tool that is use-
ful but might not be so if it became
known to official channels."
"Well — " said the old man cau-
"Don't waste my time," inter-
rupted Terri, harshly. "I'm not an
ordinary politician. No man who
works his way up to the fifth level
of the government is. I didn't get
to where I am today by pussy-foot-
ing around and I haven't the leisure
to spend on people who do. Now
what do you want?"
The other cackled. "Now, what
do you think?" he said, putting one
finger to his nose cunningly.
"You are old," Terri said. "And
therefore cautious. Consequently
you would not risk trying to force
something from me, but are almost
certainly trying to sell me some-
thing. Now what do I want? Not
the usual things, certainly. Within
my position I have all the material
things a man could want ; and with-
in my shield I enjoy complete im-
munity. No one but the Central
Bureau, itself, can crack this shield.
And no one but they can prevent
the conditioned reflex that stops my
heart if for some reason the shield
should be broached. I have a hold
on every man beneath me that pre-
vents him from knifing me in the
back. There could be only one thing
that I want that you could give me
— " he leaned forward, staring into
the deep-pouched eyes — "and that
is a means of getting at the man
above me. Am I right?"
"No," said the old man.
"No?" he echoed in angry in-
Their eyes locked. For a long
time they held, and at last Terri
The old man sighed — sipped
noisily from a drink on the table
beside his chair.
"Wait!" said Terri. To his own
NO SHIELD FROM THE DEAD
surprise, his voice was eager, even a
little timorous in its hopefulness.
"Wait. I've got it. There will be a
test. There always is a test every
time a man moves up. His superiors
watch him when he doesn't suspect
it. It will be that way for me when
I am ready for the fourth level. And
you have some kind of advance in-
formation. You know what the test
will be. Maybe you know the man
who will administer it. You want
to sell me this information."
The other said nothing.
"Well," Terri spread his hands
openly. "I am interested. I'll buy.
What do you want. Money? A fa-
"No?" Terri shouted, starting up
from his chair. "What do you mean
by no? Can't you say anything but
'no'?" A rage possessed him. He
flung himself forward two furious
steps to stand threateningly over
the aged figure. "You doddering
idiot! Say what you want, and
quickly! My two hours are nearly
up. I'll be missed. They'll be here
in a few minutes — the Bureau
Guards. They'll crack the room
shield. They'll rescue me. And
they'll take you into custody. To be
questioned. To be executed. At my
order. Do you understand? Your
life depends on me."
After a little, the old man chuck-
led again. "Yes," he muttered, in
a high-pitched old voice. "That's
the way it'll be."
Terri stared at him. "You don't
seem to understand. You're going to
"Oh yes," said the old man, nod-
ding his head indulgently. "I'll die.
But I'm an old man. I'd die any-
way in a year or so — maybe in a day
or so. But for you — for a young
man like you — the up and coming
young governmental with every-
thing to lose — " he leered slyly at
Terri. "Your death won't be so easy
for you to take."
"I die?" echoed Terri, stupefied.
"But I'm not going to die. They're
coming to rescue me."
"Oh, are they?" said the old
"Of course!" said Terri. "Of
course, why shouldn't they?"
The old man winked one faded
"Fine young man," he said. "Up
and coming young man. Brilliant.
Never a thought for the people he
trampled on the way up the lad-
der. Dear me, no."
"What do you mean?" said
The old eyes, looking up sudden-
ly, pierced him.
"Do you remember Kilaren?"
"Kilaren," recited the old man
as if quoting from a newspaper.
"The beautiful young secretary of
a provincial governor whose lecher-
ous and unnatural pursuit drove
her to suicide. So that one day to
escape the governor, she jumped or
fell from a high window. And the
people of the province, who had
for a long time heard ugly stories
and rumors, finally mobbed the
office and lynched the governor,
hanging him from the same win-
dow from which the girl had
jumped. They said that even the
fall had not spoiled her beauty, but
that was probably false." The old
man's words dwindled away into
GORDON R. DICKSON
"1 what of it?" said Terri.
"U 1 1. it's that to do with me?"
"Why, you were there. You were
the governor's aide, and when the
mob had gone home and feeling
had slackened off, you stepped into
the gap and seized up the reins of
government, handling matters so
skillfully that you were immediately
promoted to an under-post at
"What of it?"
"Why it was all your doing," re-
plied the other, in a mildly reprov-
ing voice, "the rumors, the stories,
the mob, even the suicide. Poor
Kilaren — a pitiful pawn in your
ruthless game to eliminate the gov-
ernor in your mad dash up the
"I never touched her!" cried
Terri, his voice cracking. "I swear
"Who said you did? The type of
mind that stoops to murder would
never have gotten you this far. But
you were the one who hired her,
knowing the governor's tendencies.
You were the one that gave her
work that kept her, night after
night, alone with the man. You
preyed upon her fear of losing her
job. You threw the sin in her face
after she had committed it. You
told her what she might have been,
and what she was, and what she
would be. You broke her, day after
day. In the sterile privacy of the
office you reviled her, scorned her,
brought her to believe that she was
what she was not, a creature of
filth and dishonor. You blocked off
all avenues of escape but the one
that led through one high window.
You killed her!"
TERRI brought his quivering
hands together and clenched
them in his lap. He stared at the old
man. "Who are you?"
"I was a friend of hers. We lived
in the same hotel-apartment. She
had no family. I believe you knew
that when you hired her."
"I see," said Terri. He drew a
long, deep, shuddering breath, and
leaned back in the chair. "So that's
the story," he said, his voice
strengthening, "I might have
known it. Blackmail. There are al-
ways fools that want to try black-
"No," said the old man. "Not
Blackmail, Comptroller. I want
Terri laughed shortly, contemp-
tuously. "No knowledge that you
have can threaten my life."
"They will come," said the old
man, leaning wearily back against
his cushions. "As you said, the
Bureau Guards will come; and I
think I shall kill myself when I
hear them starting to crack the
shield around this room. They will
come in and find you with a dead
man. What will you tell them,
"Tell them? Anything I choose.
They won't question me."
"No. The guards won't. But the
Bureau will. How can they raise a
man to the fourth level when there
is a two-hour mystery in his backr
ground? They will want to know
what you were doing here."
"I was kidnaped," said Terri.
"By whom? Can you prove it?
"I've been held a prisoner here."
"By a dead man? No, no, Terri.
NO SHIELD FROM THE DEAD
The circumstances are suspicious.
You walk away from the embassy
under your own power. You disap-
pear and are found in a shielded
room with a man who has commit-
ted suicide. This must be explained,
and in the end you will have to tell
them the truth."
"And what if I do?" said Terri,
"But the truth is so fantastic,
Terri. So uncheckable. I am dead,
and I am the only one who could
have supported your story. These
people who were here when you
came in are common actors. They
have no idea why I wanted you de-
coyed here. These are my rooms.
And there is no obvious connection
between me and the dead Kilaren.
And perhaps I will decide to live
just long enough to denounce you
as a traitor when they enter."
Ashen-faced, Terri stared.
"The Bureau will have to ques-
tion you. They will clamp a block
on your mind so that you can't
operate the reflex that stops your
heart. And they will question you
over and over again, because the
Bureau cannot afford to take
chances. You will go into a private
hell of your own, Terri Mac. You
will tell the story of your own evil
to that girl over and over again,
pleading to be believed. And they
will not believe you. And in the end
they will kill you, just to be on the
safe side. Because, you see, you
might have been doing something
traitorous in these two shielded
Terri's head bobbed limply, like
a drunken man's. He made one last
effort. "Why?" he said. "Why do
you do this? Your life. For a girl
who was no connection to you?"
The old man folded his hands.
"I was a little like your gover-
nor," he said. "We all have our
sins. I loved Kilaren and the shock
of her death wrecked my health."
He cocked his head suddenly on
one side. "Listen," he said.
From beyond the closed door of
the room, a high-pitched humming
was barely audible. It grew in vol-
ume, going up the scale. Terri
leaped to his feet ; and for the space
of a couple of seconds, he lunged
first this way then that, like a wild
animal beating against its trap.
Then, as if all will had at last gone
out of him, he stopped in the mid-
dle of the room and closed his eyes.
For a fraction of a moment he
stood there, before a faint convul-
sion seized him and he fell.
With a faint smile on his face,
the old man reached out to a hid-
den switch and cut the shield about
the room. Uniformed guards tum-
bled through the door, to pull up in
dismay at the sight of the body on
"I'm sorry," said the old man, "I
must have turned the shield on by
mistake. I was trying to signal
someone. The Comptroller seems
to have had a heart attack."
J- GRAPH is now a familiar medi-
cal machine used widely in analyz-
ing mental and physical illnesses.
Essentially, it is nothing more than
a very sensitive amplifier fitted with
electrodes which, placed against the
patient's skull, are capable of pick-
ing up the minute "brain-waves" to
which the electrical activity of the
brain constantly gives rise. These
brain waves may be reproduced on
an oscilloscope like that of a tele-
vision tube, or they may be photo-
graphed, or they may be charted on
Medical investigators admit the
usefulness of the electroencephalo-
graph but wonder why it can't be
used as a "predictor" as well as an
analyzer. Detailed study resulting
from this suggestion has determined
that, not only can the electroen-
cephalograph analyze mental flaws,
but it can also detect them in
advance of their occurrence!
The uses of this, of course, sug-
gest themselves automatically. How
all-important it is to detect the be-
ginnings of a mental crack-up in in-
dividuals who have great responsi-
bility, particularly where lives of
people are concerned! Think of
what it would mean as a safety fac-
tor regarding bus drivers, engineers,
airline pilots, executives, or any
others who hold in their hands the
lives and fortunes of hundreds of
people at a time! Such persons
should be exposed to encephalo-
graphic examination in order to
sense or detect the slightest disturb-
ance which might lead them to
crack-up while on the job. It is not
a matter of determining sanity or
insanity ; rather it is purely a matter
of detecting strong emotional dis-
turbances which, appearing clearly
upon the encephalograph's screen,
aid in the prediction of emotional
behavior and, possibly, help avert
terrible accidents or other tragedies.
Nereid, Satellite of Neptune
NEREID, THE second Moon of
cold, remote Neptune, was dis-
covered only two years ago but al-
ready astronomers have managed to
plot out its not conventional orbit.
The first Moon of Neptune, fa-
miliar old Triton, circles the planet
at a reasonable distance of about
two hundred and twenty thousand
miles and in all other respects
seems representative of the general
system of satellites throughout the
But Nereid is another matter.
The orbit of this little moon ap-
proaches as close as a million miles
to Neptune and recedes as far as
six million miles ! The orbit is three
times as long as it is wide, giving
an elliptical effect, much like that
of a cometary orbit rather than a
Triton is about the same size as
our own Moon, but Nereid has to
be different even here. It is only
about a fifteenth as massive as
Luna. Nereid might be character-
ized as "a little squib rotating in a
No technical reasons have yet
been divined to account for this ex-
treme eccentricity. The formation
of such a perverse orbit may indi-
cate that the satellite is a captured
sub-planet or it may imply some
possibility of collision. Any such
theorization awaits much closer ob-
servation of the actual path, since
Nereid takes not quite an Earth-
year to circle its mother planet.
Chain Of Waves
CROWDED IN the back pages
of newspapers all over the coun-
try, so obscure that most readers
scarcely noticed it, was an impor-
tant announcement, an announce-
ment which shows just how far
technology has jumped ahead. The
micro-wave link between the East
and West Coasts has been com-
pleted! The first means of com-
munication to use it was the tele-
phone, but the prime purpose of
the relay link is, of course, tele-
The micro-wave ultra-high-fre-
quency radio relaying system is a
miracle of applied electronics. All
across the country, at intervals of
about a hundred miles, are erected
two-hundred-foot towers of con-
crete (to overcome line-of -sight
problems) topped by large horn-
shaped antennas. Each tower is a
remotely controlled, automatically
operated self-contained receiving
and broadcasting station. A pro-
gram originating in New York
travels via these tight beams of
high-frequency radio waves from
tower to tower where, each time, it
is picked up, amplified and re-
broadcast, all in a fractional thou-
sandth of a second !
The system is highly practical,
because the high-frequency radio
waves carrying the television im-
pulses are not just broadcast in a
circular pattern. Instead, the tre-
mendously directional antennas,
like gridded horns, about ten feet
on a side, focus these beams into
extremely narrow searchlights,
sending them in a straight line to
the next tower, where the process
Some measure of the extreme
directivity of the beams can be got
from the fact that each tower
broadcasts its beam with a power
of only one-half watt!
When interplanetary travel is
finally accomplished, it is a certain-
ty that communication will -take
place through micro-waves. An or-
dinary beam traversing inter-
planetary space would spread out
in far too random a manner, so
that no transmitters conceivable
could possibly supply the energy
needed to travel millions of miles.
But micro-waves using "micro-
watts" of power could do this, and
hence interplanetary communica-
tion over "tight-beam" systems is
perfectly feasible. The step from
spanning a country to spanning
space is easy. The Signal Corps peo-
ple who bounced radio waves off
the Moon were using broad beams
in comparison — which accounts for
the enormous amount of power
they had to use in the radar appara-
tus. But, given micro-waves with
tight-beam antennas, they'll do the
same thing on a flashlight cell's
power! —Charles Recour
Your definition (of science fic-
tion) as delivered to Marion Fried
via the Chat with the Editor — I
disagree with you. I think that the
science fiction story IS a basic. It
is distinctly different from any
other type of fiction. To fit into
your basic types, I would loosely
put in the problem story. Real
science fiction does contain a prob-
lem, a problem extrapolated from
today's science. And when I say
"science" I don't mean only physics
or chemistry, but biology, botany,
The story then is made up of re-
solving the problem, or the central
character's seeing the problem and
finding his place in it. It differs
from the ordinary problem story
(example: detective "whodunit"
story) in that survival is a part of
the story. That is, it moves from
the philosophical to the actual (ac-
tual in relation to the characters)
and has a life-or-death meaning.
If your definition of a science fic-
tion story is something that is only
a kind of background then I can
expect IF to publish only those
stories dealing with jungles and
swords and mortgages altered
semantically to "extraterrestrial
fastnesses", "portable energy weap-
ons", and "planetary rights".
I still think stf is written around
a problem, an extrapolated prob-
lem. The best way to say it might
Science fiction is "What would
happen if — ".
You MUST have the same be-
liefs in mind yourself, but got a
little muddled semantically while
trying to find a deft, one sentence
meaning. You named the magazine
IF. "If" is what makes science fic-
tion possible. If there were no "If"
there would be only ordinary
things, no worlds to conquer, no
atom to smash, no driving, over-
whelming force that shouts down
the blazing corridors of time or
whispers in the deep of the night:
"What would happen if — "
And never mind defining science
fiction. Just keep serving it to us.
It's largely subjective anyway . . .
— Dave Hammond
Runnemede, New Jersey
CAVE MAN ART
Ezra Shaw must have polished
off a copy of the "Golden Bough"
and decided, without further ado,
to set up shop as an anthropologist.
His explanation of the cave draw-
ings is mistaken as it is common.
Shaw represents the old Animal
Magic theory as if it were an agreed
upon fact, and actually it is noth-
ing of the sort. At one time it was
THE POSTMAN COMETH
supposed that all "uncivilized" art
had to do with superstition. The
western mind could not admit even
the possibility of genuine art being
produced outside of our own cul-
Now we know enough about so-
called primitive art to differentiate
between types . . . Though there is
"magic" art, it is almost without
exception characterized by abstrac-
tion, symbolism, and other forms of
distortion. Mysticism never ex-
presses itself in realism. The real-
ism of the cave paintings indicates
an entirely different sort of mind
than that which practices magic.
The men who drew those pictures
It is not necessary to investigate
other cultures to find the truth of
the statement that religious art is
always distortionistic. The history
of art in our own culture bears this
out fully. True, many artists who
worked on religious projects were
realistic in the extreme, but a study
of their lives reveals that they them-
selves were far from "true be-
lievers". True religious art is char-
acterized by the complex surrealism
of Bosch or the elongated and
warped figures of El Greco ... or
the African sculpture from which
Picasso developed Cubism. Realism
is typified by Thomas Eakins, the
American who studied anatomy to
the point of cutting up bodies. Re-
ligious artists are not interested in
portraying things as they are, they
wish to show what things MEAN.
That is what convinces me that
the cave art had little or nothing
to do with magic. Why did they
work, way back in those days, at
such great difficulty? Why does an
artist of today go to such trouble
to use only the best materials. To
make the picture last, of course.
The cave man has certainly been
successful, if that was his aim. I
realize that I am being just as dog-
matic in my statements as the
"magic" school of thought repre-
sented in Shaw's article, but I feel
that while his position rests solely
on prejudice, mine rests upon ob-
vious observable fact which appears
to hold true for all art known.
What could be more obvious than
that a superstitious painter would
paint supernatural pictures, and
that only a realist would strive for
Our picture of these cave artists
needs a good going over with the
spotlight of factual analysis, and
when, if ever, the results come in,
I feel quite sure that those cave
artists will be acknowledged as
some of the LEAST superstitious
people in the history of mankind.
— Ray Nelson,
MORE ON SHAW
While I am not qualified to cri-
ticize the whole article (July Sci-
ence Briefs) . . . the presence of
one paragraph which I know to be
completely erroneous casts serious
doubt upon the rest. Consider the
following: "The statuary which is
today produced by the witch doc-
tors of many of the African and
Pacific island tribes. . ." This state-
ment contains serious distortions.
( 1 ) In West Africa, most "statu-
ary" is made by wood-carvers, iron-
THE POSTMAN COMETH
workers, and brass-casters, none of
■\tiMin art' "witch doctors" in any
< use of the term, and most of
whom are full-time specialists in
their trades — perhaps professions
would be a better word.
(2) Throughout the Pacific,
wood-carving, the dominant me-
dium for statuary, is done mainly
by part-time specialists, although
nowhere in the Pacific is specializa-
tion as highly developed as it is in
(3) The term "witch doctor" is
a term which is no longer part of
the vocabulary of anyone with any
anthropological training. Having,
as it does, derogatory connotations,
it is a decidedly misleading term to
apply to the native religious special-
ists of Africa, the Pacific, or any
other part of the primitive world.
The last point merits some am-
plification. First of all, while Afri-
cans usually believe in witches,
those who are believed to be prac-
ticing witchcraft are almost in-
variably outside the conventional
religious system of the community.
In addition, most African religious
cults have a degree of sophistica-
tion, and the belief systems a rea-
sonable enough inner logic to per-
mit them to be ranked with any of
the pantheistic systems of the classi-
cal world. We would not apply the
term "witch doctor" to priests of
the classical pantheistic religions —
or, for that matter, to priests of the
Hindu cults — and there is no more
reason to do so in the case of the
African religious functionaries.
Regarding this "statuary," Shaw
says: "Invariably obscene and re-
pulsive, the images depicted have
unusually fat bodies, with the sex-
ual features exaggerated, and faces
blank." This statement conforms
exactly to a popular stereotype, and
is completely false — and I say this
in full realization of the fact that
it is, in part at least, an aesthetic
judgment. It is certainly not in-
variably true, and I doubt that it is
true as a whole of more than a few
isolated cases. I have seen some life-
sized brass-cast heads from Nigeria
which are of considerable age, and
which rival in beauty and sensitiv-
ity of treatment the best of classic
Greek sculpture. These are admit-
tedly exceptional — they are not in
conformity with the general tradi-
tion of West African Art. But the
best of West African brass-casting
and wood-carving is, by anyone's
standards, artistry of a high order.
The fact that the artistic conven-
tions which it observes differ from
our own should not blind us to the
skill and artistry that can be found
in primitive art.
I am, therefore, at a loss con-
cerning the identity of the "authori-
ties" whose judgment it is that
". . . these figurines are completely
lacking in the qualities which make
us rate the work of the cave man
painters and draftsmen with the
best that has ever been done." I'm
sure that were Shaw to examine
any significant quantity of African
and Pacific art — -with the eye of a
critic rather than that of a layman
— he would readily agree that his
"authorities" had not done so them-
selves before forming their judg-
— Edward E.LeClair, Jr.
'•I » *> -
Amer/con Museum of Natural History
COOLING SUN FREEZES WORLD — Another conception of what
would happen to Earth under a cooling sun instead of an expand-
ing one. With expiring solar energy, our planet would become a
great glob of frozen matter encrusted in ice, killing every form
of life. Here, the artist envisions New York harbor under such
CRACKERS, MY EYE!
MY DISH IS FAVORITE
A NEW, exciting variety of all your favorite puzzles, plus
such fascinating features as Adventures in Words, Your
Favorite Quiz, Great Ndmes You Should Know and other
delightful brain teasers . . . For this wonderful excursion
into puzzle pleasure, just ask your nearest news dealer. It's
only 25 cents — at all newsstands!